Gift of the Givers and P&G bring clean water innovation to SA

PG textProcter & Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water programme has donated enough of its powdered purification sachets to clean 10-billion litres of water around the world. (Images: P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water)

By Play Your Part reporter

Since 2004, American multinational company Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been distributing its sachets of water-purifying powder across the globe through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water programme. In 11 years, the sachets have made 10-billion litres of water clean and drinkable – six billion of those litres in 39 African countries.

Now the company is bringing its technology to South Africa, partnering with local relief organisation Gift of the Givers to distribute the sachets.

To celebrate the purification of the 10-billionth litre of water and launch the project locally, the Children’s Safe Drinking Water programme held its first event in South Africa at Thabotona Primary School in Tsietsi informal settlement, Ekurhuleni, earlier this month.

At the event, rapper and TV personality ProVerb demonstrated to schoolchildren how one sachet can purify 10 litres of dirty water in just 30 minutes – a day’s supply for a family of five.

Khululiwe Mabaso, P&G’s director for corporate social investment in sub-Saharan Africa, said lack of access to clean drinking water was a global problem. “This crisis is particularly prevalent in Africa, with 319-million people in sub-Saharan Africa lacking access to improved drinking water.”

Mabaso said the water purifier came out of P&G laundry detergent research. “Each four-gram packet, which uses powder technology, can purify 10 litres of heavily contaminated water wherever it is needed, which is enough clean water for a family of five for a day.”

She added that the packets are easy to transport, and require only a bucket, a cloth and a stir stick to complete the purification process in 30 minutes. “With the assistance of our 150 partners in 75 countries around the world, we have helped provide the power of clean drinking water to millions of people who need it most.”

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ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER

Access to clean water is a global emergency. Unicef estimates that 1.8-billion people globally drink contaminated water.

Water-related diseases, such as typhoid, bilharzia and cholera, affect countless African communities. Stagnant water is a breeding site for mosquitos, which spread malaria, yellow fever and dengue.

Children are particularly affected by this scourge. Diarrhoeal disease, usually caused by poor water quality, hygiene and sanitation, is the third leading cause of death among children under five. It is estimated that almost 340 000 children globally die from these diseases every year.

Mabaso explained that clean water can also increase productivity in communities. “It means more people can work. It enhances productivity at individual, household, community and national workforce levels. In fact, the World Health Organisation has estimated that every $1 invested in clean water, sanitation and hygiene generates $4 in increased productivity, which enables sustainable and equitable economic growth.”

CHILDREN’S SAFE DRINKING WATER PROGRAMME

The Children’s Safe Drinking Water Programme has pledged to help people purify 15-billion litres of clean water globally by 2020.

“That’s five billion more litres of clean water in just four years to assist in achieving one of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” said Mabaso.