Clean water scarcity is one of the biggest issues in developing countries. In a world where climate change and its effects continue to be one of the biggest challenges we face, the prevalence of acquiring clean and safe drinking water tops that list.
According to UNICEF over 1.8 billion people in Africa drink contaminated water and it is estimated that by the year 2030, between 75 million and 250 million people in Africa will be living in areas of high water stress; with the most affected being women and children.
WHO and UNICEF estimate that diarrhea and other water borne disease kill 1,600 children worldwide every day, and even with water projects being set up like boreholes, many still do not have access to clean drinking water. Some people still fetch their water from polluted water sources and owing to the scarcity of water in arid and semi-arid areas where one cannot afford to be choosy, unclean water is all that is available to the people in this areas. But with the existence of The P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, the worry of walking many kilometers to get water will be a thing of the past.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) yesterday marked an important milestone by launching the program in Machakos. 850 million liters will be provided to needy communities in Kenya. P & G has so far provided 10 billion liters of clean drinking water all over the world. The P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program was established in 2004.
P&G scientists used cleaning technology research to invent P&G Purifier of Water packets in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Company, which has a strong history of cleaning performance with brands such as Ariel detergent, Downy fabric softener and Crest toothpaste, used its innovative capability to pack the power of a water treatment plant into a small 4 gram sachet. The technology is simple to use, with only a bucket, a spoon, a cloth and a small P&G packet, people can purify 10 liters of dirty, potentially deadly water in only 30 minutes providing enough drinking water for a family of five for one day.
This means that no matter where you get your water from, so long as you have the P&G Purifier of Water packets with you, you can be able to purify even the dirtiest of waters for consumption.
“In Kenya, 37% of people do not have access to safe drinking water and this impacts not only their health, but also their education and economic opportunities – thus perpetuating a seemingly inescapable cycle of poverty. It is for this reason that our P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program was initiated in order to help address the global clean drinking water crisis,” explains Mr. Vivek Sunder, Managing Director of P&G Kenya.
Machakos County is one of the regions that P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program has focused on, partnering with ChildFund to ensure access to clean drinking water, along with improved sanitation and hygiene promotion activities in areas where the available water is not protected and easily contaminated.
Speaking during the event, The First Lady of the Machakos County, Her Excellency Lillian N’gan’ga reiterated her commitment to uplifting the communities of Machakos through providing clean water.
“I am proud that corporates such as P&G have come to support our blueprint of providing water to every Machakos homestead by the year 2017. It is through such simple innovative yet effective ways of water purification that we can improve the lives of Machakos’ residents,” said Ms. N’gan’ga.
The availability of clean drinking water is something many take for granted. The fact that most of us can turn on the tap or buy clean bottled water easily is but a phenomenon to most people, especially in the rural areas.
The presence of contaminants in water can lead to adverse health effects especially to children. Some of the reasons why it is vital to have a clean water supply are:
- Prevention of life-threatening dehydration and diarrheal diseases like cholera which can easily be prevented by drinking safe clean water. Diarrheal disease, usually caused by poor water quality, insufficient hygiene, or inadequate sanitation, is the third leading cause of death among children under five. It is estimated that almost 340,000 children globally die annually from these diseases – 3,100 of whom are Kenyans.
- Reduction of time-consuming processes of acquiring consumable water especially when it is not readily available. Women and girls in the rural areas spend more than half a day in search of water for consumption or their families. When they get back to their homes, they immediately have to start preparing supper or their families, despite their state of fatigue.
- Promoting education by keeping children in school especially girls who sacrifice their time in school to walk long distances to collect water for their families.
- The presence of clean safe drinking water is essential in emergency scenarios e.g. floods and landslides. In such circumstances, clean water is needed at all times, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers and children as well.
“Clean water does not only quench thirst, promote health and prevent unnecessary deaths. It means more people can focus on work and economic activities, and enhances productivity at individual, household, community and even national levels. In fact, the World Health Organization has estimated that every 100 shillings invested in clean water, sanitation and hygiene generates 400 shillings in increased productivity, which enables sustainable and equitable economic growth,” says Sunder.
Looking towards the future, P&G has pledged to deliver 15 billion litres of clean water globally by 2020 through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program. “That’s five billion more litres of clean water in just four years to help play our part in the global efforts to achieve one of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – Goal #6 aims to ensure availability of safe water and proper sanitation for all. P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Programme is committed to continuing its work in Kenya and the rest of the world, in order to ensure that even more communities have their lives enhanced by this basic human right,” concludes Sunder.
The quality of water we use is directly linked to the quality of our lives.