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Critical Need for Water Information in the Congo

25 November 2008

Dear Friend or Colleague:

As we enter this special time of year, I’d like to pause and say “thank you” for the support you have given the Communication for Social Change Consortium during 2008. Your help has been invaluable. We are completing our sixth year of changing thinking, changing practice and changing lives of people living in chronic poverty.

It has been a busy year, full of progress and promise. Yet the magnitude of need does not stop. Nor does our conviction that community-based communication can save lives.

Right now, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than 250,000 people are homeless due to civil strife. Fleeing from camp to camp or village to village, they lack access to clean and reliable sources of water and sanitation. Public health officials fear a cholera epidemic as dozens of cases have already been reported in eastern Congo where fighting continues.

You can help by supporting KnowWater®, the CFSC Consortium’s pilot program that puts information about accessible sources of clean water in the hands of the world’s poorest families.

KnowWater®’s premise is simple: People needing water also need good communication channels on where and how to find water. They need to be able to tell their governments when safe sources of water are contaminated. They need to understand their government’s water policies and how water is priced and distributed. And they need to know how to advocate their government officials for improvements in water distribution and management.

KnowWater® brings communication about water to poor families in simple ways: via national and community radio programs, mobile phone messages, community dialogues and information kiosks wherever people gather.

As you watch or listen to broadcast coverage of the conflict in the DRC, surely you must ask “what can I do to help?” Few of us will ever have a chance to help negotiate peace. But every one of us has a chance, right now, today, to help bring information about clean water sources to people who have none. Your contribution of at least $50 USD will move us closer to the reality of water knowledge embraced by every Congolese man, woman and adolescent.

Our goal is to raise $100,000 for KnowWater® in two months.

If you have given previously to the Consortium, you know that our work brings people together to advocate for social change as they define it—by talking together, planning together and working together on community solutions. Every person in every village of the DRC deserves to know more about accessible sources of clean water in their country.

Making a donation is easy. You can contribute online via our Web site: (click on Donate on the left-hand navigation bar), or by mailing a check or money order to our office: CFSC Consortium, 14 South Orange Avenue, Suite 2F, South Orange, New Jersey 07079 in the United States. Phone: +1-973-763-1115.

With the $100,000 seed money we raise by January 31, 2009, we will be able to leverage media and community-based partnerships in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and produce much-needed water programming. We will expand the reach of KnowWater®--and begin to quickly get critical information in the hands of those without water before the conflict escalates even more.

I realize that financial markets are in crisis and the global economy is in decline. Money is tight everywhere. Our own portfolio at the Consortium has taken a dramatic free-fall. Yet that cannot make us impotent. Rather it is further inspiration to do more because greater numbers of people have reached official household poverty levels.

So, thank you in advance for your contribution, whatever the size. As you brush your teeth tomorrow morning, please stop and think about the possibility of life without clean water. Or of having no access to information about how to get clean and safe water. With your help, fewer families in the Congo will face such realities.

Thank you.

Denise Gray-Felder
Communication for Social Change Consortium

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