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P&G Participates in World Water Day with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Announces a new collaboration with CARE: Reaching the 100th School in Kenya with Clean Water

CARE 100th School Alex Mwaki Greg Allgood Stephen Opondo 2Today, in celebration of World Water Day, we’re participating in a ceremony convened by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton where we’ll announce a new collaboration between P&G and CARE to provide more than 100 million liters of clean drinking water in rural areas of Kenya and Ethiopia.  P&G and CARE issued a media release describing the effort (Download MR WWD Partnership 3.22.12).

US Dept of State Mar 2012 2In addition, I’m honored to represent P&G and join Secretary of State Clinton on stage in Washington, DC to announce a new US Water Partnership and to be part of the 2012 Steering Committee for the Partnership.  This recognition of partnerships, both the new collaboration with CARE and the US Water Partnership, mean a lot to me because partnerships are the engine that drive the success of the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) Program. 

ACEAward_HillryBobSecretary Clinton has been a passionate advocate for clean drinking water.  I was honored (and horrified at the overwhelming challenge) to be the speaker immediately following her historic foreign policy speech on water at the National Geographic Society on World Water Day 2010 (http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/03/138737.htm).  As they say, the world will little note nor long remember what I said that day, but her speech stands as a beacon for what is possible using water as a major part of the US foreign policy agenda.  And P&G recently received the US Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence for our corporate social responsibility efforts in Pakistan and Nigeria, largely based on our CSDW Program.  Bob McDonald, P&G CEO and Chair, represented P&G to receive the award from Secretary Clinton.

While I’m thrilled to be in Washington DC to take part in a number of presentations including the high level event at the US State Department, I was equally pleased to recently travel to Kenya to kick-off the new collaboration with CARE to provide 100 million liters of clean water. This was marked by opening the 100th school in which we’ve provided clean drinking water and hand washing stations.  Below is my recap of that day.

It’s a beautiful day in the Siaya District of western Kenya and I’m traveling with Alex Mwaki and Margaret Lesso of CARE Kenya and Carol Meyer of CARE USA.  Alex and I have been friends and collaborators now for 8 years and today we’re thrilled to celebrate kicking off the program at the 100th school, St Linus Nzoia Primary School. 

CARE school children 2St Linus Nozia Primary School sits on the banks of the Nozia River.  It’s almost right on the equator and in deep, rural Kenya where people are subsistence farmers.  During most of the year, the only source of water for bathing, washing, and drinking is the river.  They have some capacity to collect rain water during the rainy season but it doesn’t last long.

CARE gathering water 2We’ve worked with CARE to target schools like this one where the P&G packets can make the biggest difference.  It’s not as simple as it sounds to make sure you’re finding the right schools, but Alex and his team have experimented and refined an approach over the last 6 years that is working very well.  CARE Kenya starts with a stakeholder meeting bringing together the local Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and other water stakeholders.  This ensures that everyone is supportive of our work and also that there’s not redundancy with other water programs.  For this most recent set of schools, the stakeholders identified more than 30 schools before conducting site visits to the schools to determine the best 20.

CARE girl with water 2Alex and his team train the teachers at each school and two teachers volunteer to be sponsors or “patrons” who will lead a team of student volunteers called “the clean water committee” that will take responsibility for preparing the clean drinking water and setting up hand washing stations each day.  Alex has learned over the years that it’s important to select patrons who are likely to stay in place for several years to help ensure continuity of the school program and, based on this, has developed some criteria to help select the best patrons.

CARE carrying water to school 2We walk with the student committee to collect water.  To help build gender equality, CARE requests both a male and female patron and that the clean water committee include both boys and girls.  We don’t have to walk far for water today as the school was built close to the river.  It’s far enough away so that the seasonal flooding doesn’t usually reach the school buildings.  But flooding can be an issue and frequently there are outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, and typhoid fever during the rainy season.

CARE adding packets 2The students were trained a few days ago and they’re efficient in making clean drinking water using the P&G packets.  They know to add the packets to 10 liters, stir vigorously for 5 minutes, allow the water to settle for 5 minutes, pour the settled water through a cotton cloth, and then wait 20 minutes before drinking the clean water.

CARE stirring 2With only minimal encouragement, the students break out into a song to help pass the time while they stir.  The students love the “magic” when the dirty water turns into clean and healthy water.  I decided to capture the flocculation and settling on video this time (VIDEO).

CARE clear 2I ask the students some questions as we wait for the water to be ready to drink.  With a show of hands, we see that nearly everyone gets their drinking water from the river.  Only a few children who travel a long distance to the school have access to water from a bore hole. 

CARE kids with river water 2A few of the children’s families were using the P&G packets prior to our arrival, but for most of them, this initiative will be the first time that they’ve had truly clean water at school and at home. 



CARE Alex with clear and dirty 2Alex and I are the first ones to drink the purified water.  We then invite the head teacher, Stephen Opondo, to drink with us and say a few words before inviting all the students to enjoy clean water in celebration of the opening of the 100th school.  Mr Opondo tells us “P&G and CARE have brought us a way to have clean water.  We are very pleased that now we will have healthy school children free of dysentery”.  Like the students, Mr Opondo collects water from the river and he tells us that he’ll set a good example by only drinking water treated with the P&G packets from today onwards.

CARE P&G and PUR 2Because we’re going through a transition of renaming the PUR packets to the P&G packets, I show Alex and the students the new packet design.  It will be near the end of the year before the P&G packets are available in Kenya, but I wanted to show them what’s coming in the future.  They like the new design and are glad to hear that we haven’t changed what’s inside the packet.




CARE boys with Full class 2From our previous work, we know that these school programs can have a significant impact.  In fact, the CDC monitored some of the previous schools and showed that providing clean drinking water and hand washing stations reduced school absenteeism by 26%, and resulted in 3-fold higher usage of water treatment by the surrounding community. 

CARE girl drinking 2We meet the chairman of the school committee, Julius Odako.  He welcomes us to the community and tells us that he’s very thankful to P&G and CARE.  To encourage widespread adoption of clean water, the school children will take packets home and CARE also engages the community health workers (CHWs) to help spread the word.  As the chair person, I ask Mr Odako for permission to meet the CHW for this village.  He says no problem, and whips out his mobile to make a call.  I’m really surprised that he has the number for the CHW on speed-dial. 

CARE Julius Odako 2As we travel to the CHW, I get to know Julius.  He tells me that he’s 60 years old and volunteers that he has HIV/AIDS.  He’s a good role model to be open about his status. This helps reduce the stigma so that people agree to be tested to learn their status and, if they are positive, to take medication to keep them alive and take protection to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.  In fact, Julius agrees to a short interview so that more people can hear that he’s open about his status. (VIDEO)

As someone with HIV/AIDS, Julius knows first-hand about the importance of clean drinking water to prevent opportunistic infections.  In fact, he’s been receiving the P&G packets through another program that we have with CARE to use the CHWs to reach people with HIV/AIDS.  CARE Kenya is doing this in collaboration with more than 60 health facilities in western Kenya.  It’s part of our new grant that we’re celebrating today to provide 50 million days of clean water.  Julius tells me that he’s been a regular user of the packets to clean his water for the last year and he wants to make sure that everyone has the packets in this village to provide clean water.

CARE Evelyn Atieno at river 2When meet the CHW, Evelyn Atieno, the mystery of the speed-dial is resolved.  It turns out that Evelyn is the daughter-in-law of Julius and so not such a surprise that he has her number.  Every grandfather knows how to reach his grandchildren quickly!  We walk with Evelyn to collect water and are amazed at the difference that the P&G water packets can make.  It’s no wonder that the school children and community are excited and thankful for CARE and P&G’s work to provide clean water.  Evelyn tells us that the P&G packets are the right solution for them because their water is so dirty and she knows it works because she can see it with the own eyes.

CARE Evelyn Atieno 2I’m thankful to CARE for their tireless work to not only reach deep into these rural communities but to refine and improve their work so that it becomes more efficient and more impactful.  Here’s to another 100 million liters of clean water and happy World Water Day!


 CARE Dr Greg with class 1 2





The is great.I only wish that we can Sustain this.Big thank you for all making this happen

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