Saturday, January 09, 2010

Water: Stars set off for Kilimanjaro to spotlight water crisis

Actors, rappers and environmentalists are scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to spotlight the global clean water crisis, which affects more than 1 billion people worldwide, and to raise funds for the United Nations refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations.

Participants in the “Summit on the Summit” set off yesterday on the Lemosho route and reached the Shira Camp, where they spent their first night at more than 11,000 feet on Africa’s highest mountain.

After passing through savannah, tropical jungle, alpine pasture, moorland, desert, snowfields and glacial landscapes, the party is expected to reach the summit at Uhuru Peak next Tuesday before heading back down the 19,340-foot mountain, according to information provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The party includes actors Jessica Biel and Emile Hirsch, rapper Lupe Fiasco, conservationist and explorer Alexandra Cousteau, environmentalist Kick Kennedy, award-winning photographers Michael Muller and Jimmy Chin, singer Santi White, actress Isabel Lucas, and Elizabeth Gore, executive director of global partnerships at the UN Foundation.

“The climb isn’t easy,” the official expedition web site points out, noting that after 10,000 feet the risk of altitude sickness increases and fatigue sets in.

“The symptoms vary from headache, dizziness and nausea to lethargy and euphoria, keeping many from reaching the summit. The last day [on the way up], in sub-zero temperatures and at the highest elevation, will be the toughest.”

Leading the climb is American musician Kenna, whose father suffered badly from a water-borne disease while a child in his native Ethiopia.

In addition to raising public awareness about the global clean water crisis, the climb will also raise funds to be distributed through the UN Foundation to several groups, including UNHCR, the Children's Safe Drinking Water Programme and Water For People and Playpumps International.

The climbers will post blogs, status updates, tweets, photographs and videos at regular intervals as they progress up the mountain. The public can also make donations through the web site, sponsoring every foot of Kilimanjaro.

Source: UN

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