Corporate Responsibility: Case Study - Unicef and Procter & Gamble

Ben Cook

Unicef and P&G are aiming to provide safe drinking water with a programme using home-based powdered purifiers

Unicef has formed an alliance with household products giant Procter & Gamble to provide safe drinking water for people in the developing world.

The organisations will work together in eight countries: Haiti, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya and Pakistan.

Joint projects will focus on supplying safer water to schools, helping families in emergency situations and reducing household exposure to water contaminated with arsenic.

Unicef plans to roll out the programme to other developing nations if the launch proves successful.

The alliance will use home-based powdered water purifiers, called Pur, to improve water quality. The purifiers, which are sold to Unicef and its partner agencies by P&G at cost price, remove dirt and disease-causing bacteria from drinking water. P&G is supplying the purifiers as part of its philanthropy programme, which is called Children's Safe Drinking Water. The alliance will also train families in developing countries to use the water purifiers.

Each year, 1.6 million children under five die from diarrhoea, a water-borne affliction. Home-based water purification systems have been shown to drastically cut deaths from diarrhoea.

Vanessa Tobin, Unicef's chief of water, environment and sanitation, said: "Millions of lives can be saved or transformed with simple, inexpensive and proven tools such as household water purification."

Greg Allgood, P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water programme director, said: "This is a great example of how combining the resources of the public and private sectors can bring innovative technologies to more children."

Regina Keith, Save the Children UK senior health adviser, said: "Water purification can help mitigate the negative impact of unsafe drinking water. Long-term solutions are also needed to ensure that clean water and sanitation are seen as national and international priorities.

"This year's G8 summit will focus on both the environment and Africa, and sustainable solutions such as increased access to clean water and sanitation must be a priority rather than simply managing the impacts of poor water supply."

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