Joel And Benji Madden Fight To Make Clean Water More Accessible

'Water is the most important thing that any of us could have to survive and live,' Joel says of the Tap Project.

Benji and Joel Madden’s entire worldview was changed last year, when they traveled to a tiny village in the Central African Republic. One of the poorest countries in the entire world, surrounded by war-racked nations on all sides, it is all but isolated from the rest of the world. There, water is not an amenity. It is a luxury.

“It’s a small country, surrounded by all these countries in conflict. It’s almost like a microcosm of everything that [Africa] is dealing with, and one in five kids over there are dying before the age of 5. And a third of the people have no access to clean water,” Joel said. “For countries like America or the U.K., we’re not used to the idea that you can’t have water at your access, but there … are literally people getting water out of a hole in the ground and using it for everything from washing to drinking. And water is the most important thing that any of us could have to survive and live.”

So after they returned, the [artist id="1111181"]Good Charlotte[/artist] duo contacted UNICEF and began working as spokespeople for the Tap Project, a charity started in 2007 in New York when restaurants asked patrons to donate $1 for a glass of tap water they would usually enjoy free, with all funds going to UNICEF’s efforts to bring clean water to millions of children in places like the Central African Republic.

The project worked so well that more than 2,000 restaurants have agreed to take part — and given that this is World Water Week, the Maddens sat down with MTV News to raise awareness about the lack of clean and accessible water around the globe.

“Almost a billion people worldwide don’t have clean or safe drinking water; 425 million of those people are children, and 25,000 kids every day die from preventable causes and 4,200 of that is from not having clean drinking water every single day,” Joel explained. “World Water Week is happening now, so we want people to go to restaurants and donate a dollar or two or three to the Tap Project. Or you can just go to TapProject.org and donate online.”

“It’s a rough thing to think of, but the encouraging news is that with the Tap Project, this can be dramatically affected. We believe it should be zero,” his brother Benji added. “With the Tap Project, $1 provides drinking water for a child for 40 days or 40 kids for one day. Think about what a difference a dollar makes. It’s pretty encouraging.”

Or, to put it another way: “It blows your mind and you think, one day without Starbucks, or instead of voting for someone on ‘American idol,’ donate to TapProject.org,” Joel said. “Cut one little simple thing out that costs a couple bucks and … go to the Web site, and give a dollar or two. It really can — and will — make a difference.”

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