Ride for a Brighter Tomorrow – Together with UNICEF, we're gearing up to go the distance and make a difference in the giro del gelato 2021, and that's where you come in! Beginning on 15th July, we want you to join us in counting kilometres and raising money for children and families in Bangladesh.
Our target: 100,000 euros for families in Bangladesh. For every kilometre ridden by the woom community, we'll donate ten cents to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The aid project that we're supporting there goes by the name 'WASH' and enables children and families to have safe and secure access to Water, Sanitation facilities, and Hygiene services. Right now, the matter is more pressing than ever as these fundamental elements can be pivotal in preventing outbreaks of the coronavirus and limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Why is it so important that children and families in Bangladesh get help now?
Bangladesh is one of the world's poorest countries. It has a population of 170 million. 40 percent of the population are children. 30 percent live in slums. Life is a daily battle against poverty, hunger, exploitation and life-threatening natural disasters like hurricanes and floods.
Despite its own challenging situation, Bangladesh has taken in more than 875,000 Rohingya refugees, forced to flee neighbouring Myanmar due to repression and persecution.
You ride, we donate
Bangladesh's economic situation has improved in recent years. Its economy grew by just under 8 percent in 2018, one of the best figures in the world. The growth is partly due to the up-and-coming export economy and aided by the steadily growing local demand and corporate investments.
Things have been looking positive as the amount of young people that are getting a good education at universities and technical colleges is slowly but surely on the rise. This, however, is dependent on children and young people being able to go to school – and to do that, they need to be healthy.
The coronavirus pandemic has put the brakes on this positive trend. In a country with the world's highest population density, it's almost impossible to keep your distance. Residents of slums are particularly vulnerable here, where people live crammed into small spaces. In Dhaka, which is one of the world's fastest growing metropolises, around 1.1 million of its 9 million residents live in slums.
Clean water and hygiene are fundamental for a healthy life
The COVID-19 pandemic has emphatically reminded us how important it is to regularly wash your hands. However, more than half of the world's population do not have access to safe sanitation facilities. Three billion people in the world – including hundreds of millions of school children – do not have access to hand-washing facilities with soap. Almost 675 million people do not have access to toilet facilities.
The worst-affected are people living in rural areas, city slums, areas that are prone to natural disasters, and low-income countries. The effects of unsafe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene provisions can be fatal for children. More than 700 children under the age of 5 die on a daily basis from diarrhoeal infections linked to poor access to safe water and sanitation. In areas facing conflict, the likelihood of a child dying from diarrhoeal diseases is almost 20 times higher than the chance of dying in direct violence.
This is exactly what the WASH project led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is working to eradicate. The project is all about providing people with clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene measures.
What does hand-washing have to do with education?
"Covid-19 has meant children across the globe have not been able to go to school. But schools aren't just a place for learning, they're often the only chance a child has for a meal and access to clean, running water. Homeschooling as we know it isn't available everywhere. Any progress in helping children over recent decades has been set back, or even completely undone. Take the rising number of child marriages, for example," says Christoph Jünger, Managing Director of Austria's Committee for UNICEF, explaining the situation in Bangladesh. "The effects of the crisis – particularly in terms of children and young people's education – will have a serious impact on the lives of girls and boys in Bangladesh. If we don't act now, the crisis will take a massive toll on the children over the long term."
Water and good hygiene are vital when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, which is necessary for children to live long, healthy lives. Water and hygiene prevent children from missing school due to illness – and better education leads to better opportunities for the rest of their later lives.
"In many schools, children have no opportunity to wash their hands to prevent illness – this is where the WASH program comes in," adds Jünger. "For just 177 US dollars, we can buy 100 cans of powdered bleach for disinfection. For around 380 dollars, we can do hygiene training for 90 mothers and daughters, and for some 860 dollars, we can fund one of 40 handwashing stations that supply around 3,000 people with running water."
The focus on easily available hygiene measures is so important because vaccination against COVID-19 is progressing so slowly in Bangladesh. Recent figures have shown that an average of 11,500 doses of the vaccine are administered daily. If the country continues at this vaccination rate, it will take another 2,828 days – or 7.7 years – to vaccinate a further 10% of the population.
Repairing water stations
The project woom is supporting in Dhaka with the giro del gelato will fund repairs to existing water facilities and new mobile hand-washing stations. The stations will make it possible for 12,500 people to wash their hands with clean water. According to experts, mobile sanitation facilities are a major asset in fighting the pandemic at a local level. UNICEF's in-country team will also ensure that the water quality is tested and that disinfectants are available.
What's more, children – especially girls and their mothers – will get education on hygiene to keep them healthy. "By providing these classes, we can make sure that women and girls have the knowledge they need to protect themselves from infection. The effect is huge, both immediately in the current crisis and in the long-term for the rest of their lives," says Jünger.
Access to clean water is every child's right
"Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and clean environment. Access to clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices won't just ensure that children are healthier, but also that they'll get more opportunities later on in life," says our founder Christian Bezdeka, "Even making a small contribution to this really means a lot to us."
Do you want to help out, too? Come, ride with us!
It's so easy to join in and help out.
- Sign up on the giro del gelato 2021 website.
- Go for a bike ride and enter the number of miles you rode on your personal profile. You can add miles after every bike ride you do this summer, starting on 15th July .
- For every kilometer our community logs, we'll donate ten euro cents (around $0.20 a mile) to UNICEF's WASH project in Bangladesh.
- The giro del gelato runs until 31st August .
All the information on the giro del gelato 2021 can be found here! We'd be delighted for you join us in supporting this UNICEF project in Dhaka!