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At a glance: United States of America

UNICEF taps New York City restaurants to aid world water problems

© UNICEF video
Over 200 New York restaurants are participating in the Tap Project on World Water Day to help fund UNICEF water and sanitation projects worldwide.

By Amy Bennett

World Water Day, 22 March, is an international day of action to draw attention to the lack of access to safe drinking water in the developing world. Here is a story on the day’s observance in New York.

NEW YORK, USA, 21 March 2007 – It’s an engineering miracle and something that’s completely taken for granted. It’s also free. It’s the tap water in New York City.

The New York water system, completed in 1915, uses a daily supply of 1.3 billion gallons of water from pristine upstate reservoirs, the largest unfiltered supply in the world. The water is more stringently monitored and more tightly regulated than bottled water.

However, more than 2.6 billion people worldwide  some 40 per cent of the world’s population  lack basic sanitation facilities, and over 1 billion people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Thousands of children die every day from diarrhoea and other water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases, making the lack of safe water the second largest killer of children under the age five.

Funds to help save lives

The Tap Project, taking place in New York City on World Water Day, is an innovative fundraising programme that will ask every diner in many of the city’s finest restaurants to pay $1 for the tap water they usually get for free. The funds will go to UNICEF to help save lives by providing safe drinking water access to children around the world.

Nomadic girls and women fill containers with water from a large puddle in the middle of a road in Somalia. Over 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.

Chris Cannon, owner of two award-winning Italian restaurants in New York, Alto and L’Impero, says that New Yorkers will really respond well to the Tap Project.

“Since we’re a fancy restaurant, we get a lot of bottled water requests,” he says. “But we’re going to ask everybody to participate. It’s not going to be limited to tap water.”

Access to safe water

Other New Yorkers cringe when they hear a dollar will be charged for that glass of ice water they expect free with every meal. But most say they’d part with their dollar for a good cause.

And for those from other countries who have made their home in New York City, clean, safe water is one of the things they most appreciate.

“Most of the time I drink this tap water,” says Muhammad Nawaz, an employee at New Naimatkada restaurant. “I never get sick with New York City water.” Mr. Nawaz is from Pakistan, where contaminated water is a serious concern.

UNICEF is working to help meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe water and basic sanitation by 2015. That’s right around the corner, but so are people willing to help meet the goal.









March 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Elizabeth Kiem reports on the Tap Project, an initiative to encourage New Yorkers to contribute to UNICEF’s water and sanitation programmes.
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21 March 2007:
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Sarah Jessica Parker was present at the launch for the Tap Project, an initiative to encourage New Yorkers to contribute to UNICEF’s water and sanitation programs.
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21 March 2007:
US Fund for UNICEF Chief Operating Officer Caryl Stern discusses the Tap Project for World Water Day.
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