After more than 5 years of being privileged to work every day on the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, I’ve recently stepped in to lead the program after Dr. Greg Allgood’s recent retirement from P&G and I’m enthusiastic about continuing to share updates on our work to provide P&G Purifier of Water packets around the world. Over the past 8.5 years, Greg and a collection of special guest authors have shared the personal stories of so many children and their families who have experienced the life-changing effects of having clean drinking water. As I write my first CSDW entry, I look forward to having more P&Gers talk about their own involvement in helping our program to grow.
Today was an inspiring day for our P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program efforts as we were joined at an elementary school in Kigali, Rwanda by some very special guests – former U.S. President Bill Clinton, his daughter Chelsea Clinton and a delegation of Clinton Foundation supporters – to see the P&G packets at work as part of our Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to provide clean drinking water to those who need it most. I was honored to represent P&G hosting our guests alongside our long-time partner World Vision including their new Vice-President of World Vision Water, Dr Greg Allgood.
For today’s Clinton Foundation visit, we had two schools participate – our host school in Kigali had the benefit of municipally treated water and rainwater harvesting tanks however the students from Ntarama village brought with them the dirty swamp water that they are forced to collect by walking for an hour twice each day.
This very turbid water is exactly the kind of highly contaminated water that the P&G packets are so effective at cleaning. And World Vision’s development work in these deep rural communities makes them an excellent CSDW partner – currently they are providing more clean drinking water in rural areas than any other NGO. In Rwanda this year alone, we are providing 60 million liters of clean water together as part of a “bridge strategy” until a more sustainable source like a water pipeline or well can be completed in the community.
President Clinton has mentioned our CGI commitment to address the clean drinking water crisis on many occasions and again today we were honored as he spoke about his admiration for P&G as a company and for our NGO partner World Vision and how impressed he is by the work we are doing together in Rwanda and around the world to address the clean drinking water crisis. From our collaboration with CGI, he is very familiar with the health impact of the P&G packets and he said today that “it’s one of the simplest things we can do to save lives.”
With a large collection of international and local media watching, it was indeed a great opportunity to show exactly how simple our packets are to use. And after her visit to Myanmar in May with P&G and World Vision to provide the 6th billionth liter of clean water purified by the packets, Chelsea was not shy at jumping in to lend a hand in treating this filthy water from the community where Confiance and Emmanuel, our student demonstrators live. She even provided a few stirring tips to her dad to make sure that he was creating a good vortex or whirlpool in the bucket to help the flocculation process along!
As the water clarified and the dirt, worms and parasites settled to the bottom of the bucket, “seeing was believing” for those who had never witnessed our amazing innovation before. There were a lot of camera shutters clicking! After filtering the water and waiting 20 minutes for the chlorine to kill all the bacteria and viruses in the water, we were able to drink a toast to the progress made on our CGI Commitment to scale up the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program to save one life every hour by 2020.
With so many thirsty people, our 10 liters didn’t last long and so it was very welcome when one of the Clinton Foundation visitors volunteered to treat another bucket of the contaminated water. It was hard to miss our volunteer – Brook Lopez, the 7-foot tall NBA All-star center for the Brooklyn Nets – who stepped up with some dedicated stirring, and he prepared another 20 liters of clean drinking water!
Before our guests had to depart from the school, we were thrilled that Chelsea enthusiastically agreed that she and her father would help launch a new social media initiative called “Flash Flood for Good” at the CGI annual meeting on September 24. In support of our CGI commitment, this effort will aggregate the Facebook and Twitter feeds of the public and celebrities to raise funds to provide clean water. In keeping with this year’s CGI theme of “Mobilizing for Impact”, Flash Flood for Good will support distribution of more P&G packets in World Vision programs including the Myanmar village that Chelsea visited in May and the efforts in Rwanda that President Clinton and Chelsea saw firsthand today. Every $10 donated during the 72-hour campaign period in September will provide clean drinking water to a child for a year. The most recent celebrities to join Flash Flood for Good are Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, and Scarlet Johannson which brings the current reach to over 184 million people.
Please consider joining the effort and donating your Facebook and Twitter feeds (https://www.flashfloodforgood.org/).
We’re excited about this opportunity that will raise awareness and support the expansion of our CSDW programs in Myanmar, Rwanda, and Ethiopia beyond the 100 million liters of clean drinking water we are currently providing in these countries with World Vision.
And a sincere thank you to the World Vision Rwanda and World Vision Water teams for their collaborative partnership and for the tireless efforts put toward hosting all of our special guests from the Clinton Foundation today!
Photo credits: World Vision