|© UNICEF 2009/ Posingis|
|Trudie talks to a local doctor in one of the areas of the Ecuadorian rainforest contaminated by oil exploitation.|
NEW YORK, USA, 15 June 2009 – UNICEF National Ambassador Trudie Styler has been a long-standing supporter of humanitarian causes. In 2005, the film producer and actress received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award for her longstanding commitment to UNICEF.
On a visit to Ecuador in 2007, Ms. Styler witnessed the environmental damage caused by oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian rainforest. She saw the devastating impact that the environmental damage and lack of safe water was having on rural communities, including the lives of the most vulnerable: women and children.
"I met mothers in Ecuador who have to make an appalling decision: either to give their children no water or contaminated water, knowing that it will make them sick,” recalled Ms. Styler.
Providing clean water to thousands
Of the 30,000 people that have been exposed to oil contamination through air, water and land in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana, half are children. The contamination has led to cancer, miscarriages, skin disorders and respiratory illnesses.
Keen to help the families she met, Ms. Styler enlisted the support of The Rainforest Fund, UNICEF and the Frente de la Defensa de la Amazonia for a pilot project that brings clean water to areas with high levels of contamination, severe health needs, poverty and minimal access to basic services.
The pilot project has now completed its first year of work with over 100 water containers installed, providing clean water to more than 4,000 people.
Specially-designed filtered water barrels enable families, health centres and schools to have clean water, even in the most polluted areas. The filters convert highly toxic water into pure drinking water for storage and use.
“We are now providing clean water to health centres, schools and families. That’s not just a handful of children - it’s thousands."
Easy to install and maintain
Working with the local community and tradesmen, the water barrels are easy to install in rural houses and shelters. If maintained, they can last up to fifty years.
For approx 500 dollars, one water container can be built and maintained – giving a family, health care centre or school access to clean water for up to fifty years.
“Once you see and meet the families that are so in need of clean water you realize how lucky you are just to be able to bring up your children in a safe place with a supply of clean water,” said Ms. Styler.
More information on the Ecuador Water Project
Ms. Styler's visit to Ecuador and her work with the communities in Sucumbios and Orellana is featured in the recently released Joe Berlinger film, ‘Crude’. For more information on the film and for screening dates please visit: http://www.crudethemovie.com/
You can make a donation to the water project by visiting: www.unicefusa.org/donate/ecuadorwaterproject
For supporters outside the US, visit: www.unicef.org.uk/trudie
On World Literacy Day, a success story from a remote region of Ecuador
Ecuadorian youths at UN forum speak out for indigenous children’s rights
UNICEF's work on improved water supply
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