In new UN-sports partnership, UNICEF races with European swimming for clean water
In yet another partnership between a United Nations agency and a sports organization to raise awareness and funds, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has teamed up with the European Swimming League (Ligue Européene de Natation – LEN) in a race against time to prevent deaths from unclean water.
“Water can be a child’s best friend yet it can also be lethal when not handled properly,” the Executive Director of UNICEF Finland, Pentti Kotoaro, said. “What better way to raise awareness of the importance of safe water and sanitation for children than through young swimmers.”
With this partnership, European swimming will be supporting the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the number of people in the world living without safe drinking water and sanitation. UNICEF estimates that up to 4,000 children under five die each day due to water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea. Almost 1 billion children worldwide have no access to improved sanitation.
“The partnership opens an excellent opportunity for national swimming federations and supporters of swimming to enter a race against time with UNICEF to help prevent those unnecessary deaths,” the agency said in a news release. As a first contribution, LEN and the Finnish Swimming Federation are dedicating the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Finland on 7-10 December to UNICEF and safe water.
Together with UNICEF Finland, the urgent issue of clean water will be highlighted and promoted with swimmers and national federations throughout Europe. “Young people and swimming stars alike will have a chance to advocate and help raise awareness and funds for UNICEF’s work to ensure the right of safe water for every child,” the agency said.
LEN President Bartolo Consolo hailed the partnership, saying it “will fulfill one of our main objectives, that of engaging European aquatics in a project for children.”
Earlier this month, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) teamed up with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the governing body of women’s tennis, to promote gender equality, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) launched the “Cricket Against Hunger” partnership with the England and Wales cricket team to draw attention to the plight of the 400 million chronically hungry children around the world.
WFP has similar fund- and awareness-raising arrangements with the International Rugby Board as well as with individual stars from the worlds of soccer, American football, marathon running and Formula One auto racing.