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P&G tackles unsafe water crisis amid cholera scare in SA

In the back of the company’s ongoing rollout of the globally recognised Purifier of Water technology, P&G (Procter & Gamble) is using the World Water Week to address safe drinking water challenges amid the current cholera scare in South Africa.

P&G (Procter & Gamble) is using the World Water Week to address safe drinking water challenges amid the current cholera scare in South Africa.

In the center of the company’s heightened efforts to improve access to safe drinking water through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program is the multi-award winning ‘P&G Purifier of Water’ technology. Developed more than two decades ago by one brilliant P&G scientist, Phil Sputer, the ground-breaking technology has become the foundation for the CSDW Program. With just a small 10-litre bucket, a stick and a cloth, this small packet of powder can purify potentially deadly, water into clean drinkable water in only 30 minutes.

This world-class innovation reportedly removes more than 99.9% of common waterborne bacteria and deadly viruses. And as nations around the world observe World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, amid fears of a looming cholera outbreak following a total of six confirmed cases early this month (according to the National Health Laboratory Services), there’s no doubt that a life changing technology such as this will be a life saviour for millions of South Africans – and subsequently over a two billion people worldwide – currently living without access to safe water supply.

Every day, more than 800 children under age 5 die of diarrhoea attributed to poor water and sanitation. But thank to P&G Water Purifier technology, this is slowly about to change.

This year’s World Water Day theme, ‘Accelerating Change to Solve the Water and Sanitation Crisis‘ is particularly significant to P&G’s long-standing commitment to improving access to safe drinking water, which dates back to the initial rollout of the initiative in 2004, which was a direct response to the waterborne disease outbreak, which claimed the lives of nearly 4 000 children. 

“The rollout of the CSDW easy-to-use water purification packet is a significant milestone in our commitment to this cause. Over the past few years, we have successfully rolled out CSDW packet in Sub-Saharan Africa, where community projects have shown the effectiveness of this technology,” said Alicia Eggington, P&G Vice President, and General Manager for South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia.

As Eggington further explained, the CSDW packet forms part of P&G’s temporary solution especially in case of emergency and rapid response for communities, notably in regions affected by natural disasters like hurricanes and floods. “For a long-term solution, we have worked with various organisations to drill boreholes and provide continuous access to clean, safe drinking water,” she said.

P&G Purifier of Water; disaster mitigation innovation

In light of the current cholera scare, Anele Nzimande, Communications Manager at P&G has expressed concerns, and acknowledged the urgent need for access to safe drinking water in affected areas. On a more positive note, however, it’s success goes to prove that in order to meet the challenges of natural disaster mitigation, more innovative technologies such as this are required. It’s no wonder it has gone on to win tons of awards for technological innovation globally, including ‘The World Technology Awards’ for the Environment, as well as the American Chemical Society-Howard Fawcett Award for outstanding Contribution to  Science, Health-Safety, Technology & Education among others. In December 2022, the invention celebrated a 20 billion liter milestone.

“Our CSDW packets are a simple solution that provides safe drinking water in emergencies and disasters, and in areas where access to clean water is limited,” Nzimande said, adding: “P&G believes that a large part of the sustainability goals will be determined by humanity’s ability to protect our water resources.”

Watch the video below to understand how impactful the solution has been, so much so it not only caught the eye of American billionaire businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates, but had former Nasa engineer and Apple engineer, Mark Rober, whose prediction about ‘the next pandemic being worse than Ebola’ was – I hate to say it – spot on.

Underpinned by more 20 billion litres of clean water provided to over 90 countries -predominantly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America – the incredible work the program has achieved demonstrates that while P&G’s work has been ongoing for almost 24 years, there’s still more to be done. That’s why the multinational consumer goods firm, best known for making soaps, shampoos and perfumes, continues to challenge itself, targeting to deliver 25 billion litres of clean drinking water by 2025.

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Editor's Desk
Curated by editor-in-chief, Tankiso Komane, this special collection of articles from the Editor's Desk unpacks topics of the day, including commentary, in-depth analysis and partner content.
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