03/25/2014, 00.00
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Climbing Mount Everest to raise world awareness about 'water for all'

by Christopher Sharma
A group of entrepreneurs, philanthropists and activists are getting ready to climb the Himalayan peak in support of the Water for the World Act, a US bill that would fund water and sanitation projects around the world. One of them is Steve Obbayi who wants to be the first Kenyan on the top of the world.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A group of entrepreneurs, philanthropists and activists are set to climb to the Everest base camp as part of a campaign called the Trek4Toilets. Their aim is to raise awareness around the world about water and sanitation issues before they reach the crisis point and to back the Water for the World Act, a bipartisan bill before the US Congress that would fund water and sanitation projects around the world.

"We're coming together from the US, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, as part of a growing global movement to bring sanitation to all," said Dawa Sherpa, one of the Nepali climbers who will accompany the group. "As we trek, we'll document the sanitation systems of Nepal, noting successes and highlighting the human need as well as the human potential."

Another climber, Steve Obbayi (pictured), is determined to be the first Kenyan on top of the world, where he will carry the campaign's banner to show that it is the "highest" priority for the world.

"Earlier this month," he said, "I met with several members of Congress and their staffers to talk about HR 2901, the Water for the World Act."

"Water and sanitation projects are tremendously effective investments, returning at least .50 for every dollar spent," Obbayi explained.

The bill "is supported by more than 80 diverse non-profits, from the American Red Cross to the World Wildlife Fund." However, "one House representative told me that while she liked the bill, she wouldn't be spending any time or energy on it" because "There's too much else going on,"

For the climber, Syria, Russia, jobs "are important issues, certainly. But there are always going to be urgent crises, at home and abroad. By focusing on water and sanitation issues now, before they reach the crisis point, we'll actually help prevent real catastrophes down the road."

In fact, getting clean water is not enough if it is not easily accessible. According to United Nations figures, some 2.5 billion people still have no access to clean and safe water.

As a result of this, thousands of children get sick every day because of poor sanitation and hundreds of them die amid widespread indifference.

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