We are fortunate that Sue arranged for John Smarge to speak about Water, Sanitation and Hygiene projects during our zoom meeting June 15, 2020.  John began by telling us about a multiyear program referred to as HANWASH, which stands for Haiti National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy – the focus of his presentation.  This program is expected to cost more than $2 Billion, but hopes to overcome a water and sanitation problem in Haiti that underlies much of the impoverished characteristic of the island by establishing sustainable community owned and maintained systems.
The HANWASH program recognizes that efforts to overcome the impoverished situation in Haiti over the past several decades have been short term assistance that provided food and water, but have been used until exhausted, worn out or broken.  The basics of water, sanitation and hygiene do not seem to have been instilled in the communities; and lack of  these basics causing water born diseases account for 50% of deaths in Haiti.  Only 30% of people in Haiti have potable water within half an hour of their dwellings, only 24% have access to a toilet.  What appears to have been missing in prior efforts to help was community ownership and maintainability.  With a couple of successful established projects as models, the HANWASH program hopes to develop a fundamental cultural change that will not only gradually overcome the impoverished situation but also provide a model for many other similar poverty problems around the globe.
The program begins in an impoverished community with assistance by Rotarians from a nearby healthy community that work with the leaders and members of the impoverished community to assess and evaluate local needs and assets, then they work together to develop water, sanitation and hygiene services that are owned, operated and maintained by the community.  The approach differs from most prior efforts in that the members and leaders of the impoverished community are involved in the planning and development as well as the cost of the system.  The ownership of bearing the cost from the start seems to be the key principle that establishes sustainability.
In the HANWASH video captured during John's presentation, he provided much more information about the program and the support by Rotary International to push forward through a multiyear effort to improve the situation and perhaps move toward overcoming poverty throughout the world.  John is a founding member of HANWASH (Haiti National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Initiative.)  Currently he is also a member of the Shaping Rotary’s Future Committee and John will serve as the Chairman of the 2022 RI Convention Committee (Houston, TX).
John Smarge has been a Rotarian and resident of Naples, Florida since 1982.  His classification is Moving and Storage. John and his wife Cindy are Major Donors and Bequest Society Members.  John served as President of The Rotary Club of Naples in 1992-93 and as District 6960 Governor in 1995-96. He was a member of the Rotary International Board of Directors in 2010-2012 and Chairman of the Executive Committee, 2011-2012.
John has twice been a Delegate to the Council on Legislation and three times a member of the RI President Nominating Committee. He has served as a Rotary International Membership Coordinator, Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator, Rotary Coordinator Training Leader and as Chair of multiple RI Committees. John served as the Aide to the 2018 – 2019 Rotary International President.  John has received numerous awards for his Rotary Service including the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service, the Distinguished Service Award the Rotary International Service above Self Award and was recognized in 1999 as the District 6960 Rotarian of The Decade.
John is a past Board Chairman of the Naples YMCA and served as Director on the board of the Boy Scouts of America, Shelter for Abused Women, Naples Girls Sports Foundation and Southern Community Bank. John and Cindy have three daughters and two grandchildren.