From Dr. Greg Allgood: World Vision Water and P&G celebrate 1 billion liters of clean water

We’ve seen a plethora of miracles and have stories to tell as World Vision Water and P&G celebrate 1 billion liters of clean water. With this milestone, we announce a new effort to reach a million people with clean water in West Africa during the next year.

By Dr. Greg Allgood, Vice President, World Vision Water
Published March 4, 2014 at 09:00am PST

Do you believe in miracles? I do.

Today we’re announcing that Procter & Gamble (P&G) and World Vision Water have now provided 1 billion liters of clean drinking water together since we began our collaboration in 2007. We’ve worked together in 34 countries and have reached a breathtaking 6,500,000 people with clean water.

We’ve responded to emergencies including:

  • The recent typhoon in the Philippines
  • The Haiti earthquake and cholera outbreak
  • Cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe, Chad, and Sierra Leone
  • The earthquake in Chile
  • Floods in Mozambique

We’ve helped keep children in school by reducing school absenteeism, and we’ve reduced the burden on women by giving them a tool to make water clean for their families.

P&G purification packets: a mini water treatment plant

The P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program provides P&G water purification packets. These are simple-to-use four-gram packets of powder that are added to dirty water and make it clean and healthy in just minutes.

They work like a mini water treatment plant by using the same ingredients used in making water safe in the United States, but they can provide clean water for only $0.02 per person per day. And they are nothing short of a life-saving miracle for people who have to drink dirty water.

Meeting Zeinab, a mother affected by HIV and AIDS

One of the most miraculous experiences with the P&G packets occurred in the rural areas of coastal Kenya. I had visited this same area about six months earlier during the initial introduction of the P&G packets so that I could help train the staff.

We met with several households as they learned to use the packets. The mother of one of the families, Zeinab, was very sick and told me that she had HIV. The World Vision staff told me that she had been bed-ridden for months; it was likely that she would die soon as she continued to lose weight and was very ill. We kept our visit short out of respect for Zeinab, but she encouraged me to visit again.

We also had a more uplifting visit with a neighbor who had already become a champion in the community for using the packets. During my return visit six months later, I asked to visit this lady. We were told she was visiting the nearby health clinic, and so we drove there to meet her.

I had assumed that her neighbor, Zeinab, had not survived. But as we waited in the shade of a tree at the clinic, Zeinab approached us.

Clean water’s ripple effects

I’ll never forget that miraculous day as long as I live.

Zeinab’s smile literally stopped everyone in our tracks even before we knew who she was. She was glowing with a light from within and clearly had a story to tell. She approached us confidently and told me that the P&G packets had saved her life. She had been bed-ridden and not able to gain weight. But once she had safe water, she was able to gain weight and get off her deathbed.

She was so strong that she now had a job as a housekeeper. Her children had stopped going to school when she was sick, partly because she could not afford the fees for their school uniforms, but now they were all in school.

Zeinab asked me to tell her story. She wants people to know that she is alive, strong, and healthy even though she has HIV, because now she has clean water. She asked me to share the picture I took of her when she was so sick and the picture that we took after she regained her health.

Recurring miracles

One of the miracles of Zeinab is that this miracle has occurred many, many times. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people with HIV have been reached by the P&G packet programs with World Vision in Ethiopia, Zambia, and other countries. We’re saving a lot of lives together.

It’s just one of many miracles that I’ve witnessed because of this collaboration — not the least of which was hosting Chelsea Clinton in a World Vision program in Myanmar and President Clinton and Chelsea in a World Vision program in Rwanda to see the P&G packets.

Allison Tummon Kamphuis, my successor for the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, and I donated the 1 billionth liter of clean drinking water to Sakira Ahmed and her son, Failu, in rural Ghana. Sakira gathers her drinking water from a pond, and her family frequently suffered from worms and parasites before the P&G packets. She was grateful to receive the donation from P&G and World Vision and be included in the millions of people who have received clean water. Be sure to watch the video at the top of the page.

Corporate partnerships multiply our impact

Who would have thought that my visit in Malawi in 2005 and years of struggle to start work with World Vision would have led to this! But the story isn’t over. It’s just getting better.

One of the most significant things that occurred before I left P&G was to help begin collaboration between P&G and Walmart. This partnership has started with Walmart’s UK subsidiary, ASDA. I hope that it will spread to many other countries.

During the campaign, every P&G product that is sold in an ASDA store triggers a donation to provide a person with one day of clean drinking water in the developing world. And by every product, I mean a whole lot of different products, since P&G is the largest consumer products company in the world with iconic brands like Pampers, Oral-B, Gillette, Venus, Always, Duracell, Pantene, Herbal Essences, Head & Shoulders, Olay, and many more.

This effort has already generated tens of millions of days of clean drinking water. The campaign is running right now in the UK and has a goal to donate 75 million days of clean water.

As one of the largest providers of the P&G packets, World Vision benefits from this P&G and Walmart campaign. In fact, partly because of this campaign, we’re announcing today not only the 1 billionth liter but also a new effort to reach another million people with clean water in West Africa during the next year.

Sakira and Ahmed and many other people in seven West African countries will receive the P&G packets with support from this effort. We’ll provide 180 million more P&G packets this year in World Vision programs through one of the largest grants that P&G has provided for providing clean water.

Combating the clean water crisis on a massive scale

Why is this collaboration so important? Scale. The potential for massive scale. The kind of scale that can help end the global clean drinking water crisis. This effort brings together P&G, the largest consumer products company on the planet, with Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, to support the work of CSDW implementing partners like World Vision, the non-governmental organization providing more clean drinking water than any other.

World Vision is already reaching one new person with clean drinking water every 30 seconds. And it’s partnerships like this that will allow us to do even more and, ultimately, lead to solving the global water crisis.

Indeed, it will take a miracle and huge scale to solve the global clean drinking water crisis. But I know we’ll get it done. After all, it’s just one more miracle in this story.

What you can do

  • Thank God for the progress that has been made to bring clean water to communities in need. Pray for even more miracles to bring clean drinking water to more and more children and families who currently don’t have access.
  • Contact your members of Congress today. Urge them to cosponsor the Water for the World Act. This critical legislation would build upon the investments that the United States is making to improve global access to clean water and sanitation.
  • Make a one-time donation to World Vision’s Clean Water Fund. You will help provide children and families in poverty with access to clean water through interventions like deep wells, water storage containers, piping systems, purification equipment, latrines and hand-washing stations, and more.