Water borne diseases are on the rise around the world and Kenya is no exception. Since 2015 water-related diseases, such as cholera and typhoid have affected communities in Nairobi, Eastern and Western provinces and if we look at the water stats in the country, it is not difficult to see why. Roughly 37% of Kenyans don’t have access to clean drinking water. UNICEF estimates that over 1.8 billion people worldwide drink contaminated water, 319 million of those being in Sub-Saharan Africa. In total 340,000 children die annually from diarrhea as a result, with 3,100 of those being Kenyan. Water borne diseases are in fact the third leading cause of death among children under five.
Places prone to this problem include arid and semi arid areas where water is first of all hard to come by, and when it is available it is not safe for human consumption. Without safe water sources, parasites and disease causing germs are ingested, since many families do not have the capabilities for purifying water before drinking. Mothers and children are mostly tasked with collecting water from boreholes and dams for their daily household needs and these boreholes are far and spread out. As a result, a lot of time is lost fetching water and this greatly affects a child’s education and development.
Many children in problem areas miss the opportunity to be present in school due to suffering water borne illnesses, such as diarrhea, typhoid and cholera among others. This in turn causes lack of concentration in class, which leads to poor performance . Even some children who are healthy still skip classes to accompany their mothers to boreholes so that the family can bring home as much water as possible.
This is a sad situation and to improve it, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been working with 25 local and international partners to provide clean water in health clinics, schools and emergency relief efforts. P&G has so far provided 10 billion liters of clean water worldwide in a program that started in 2004, and the 10th Billion liter was marked and celebrated last week at an event in Machakos county. The event was graced by First Lady of Machakos Ms.Lilian Ng’ang’a. The First Lady witnessed the purification process and even took some of the water that had been purified. This was a strong demonstration of faith in the process.
The purification process works through an innovative, and easy to use powder water treatment (P&G Purifier of Water sachets). Each sachet which contains just 4 grams of powder is capable of treating and purifying10 liters of dirty water to WHO standards. The simple procedure comprises of only a bucket, something like a wooden spoon to stir with, a clean cloth and the small P&G sachet. The procedure is as simple of pouring the solution into the water, stirring, leaving it to settle and sieving with a clean cloth. This process takes just 30 minutes. Due to light packing and flexibility, the sachets can be used anywhere at any time to clean contaminated water. They’re mostly distributed in problem areas.
Here is a short video of how the process works.
“Clean water does not only quench thirst, promote health and prevent unnecessary deaths. It means more people can focus on work and economic activities, and enhances productivity at individual, household, community and even national levels. In fact, the World Health Organization has estimated that every 100 shillings invested in clean water, sanitation and hygiene generates 400 shillings in increased productivity, which enables sustainable and equitable economic growth,” says Sunder, Managing Director of P&G Kenya.
In true essence, without water there is no life whether physically, emotionally, mentally, economically or socially. Healthy, clean water leads to a more balanced life for those throughout the country, particularly children. Drinking clean water helps sustain life, and avoid malnutrition, stunned growth, and death. It causes better productivity, which enables students to further reach their potential in school and education.
P&G has pledged to deliver 15 billion liters of clean water globally by 2020 through the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program. “That’s five billion more liters of clean water in just four years to help play our part in the global efforts to achieve one of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals – to ensure availability of safe water and proper sanitation for all…”, Sunder concludes.