How clean water transforms lives

Particularly for women, access to clean water creates education and economic opportunities.

Video: P&G

Eighteen year-old Veronika of Malaka, Indonesia holds a fervent wish in her heart—to be able to do her homework as soon as she gets back from school.  

But instead of sitting at a desk with a book in her hand, Veronika sets out for the forest to gather wood every day after school. Aside from using wood as fuel to cook meals, her family needs lots of wood to boil water sourced from the deep well which makes them sick if not treated.

After gathering wood, Veronika doesn’t have enough time to study. “With the time I have left, I must help my parents. I am tired, really tired, but I must help them”, she said.

Mary Anyango, a young mother and health worker from Migori, Kenya walks for 20 minutes each way from her home and back to fetch water from the river. Pregnant with her third child, she must carefully balance a pail of water on her head and carry it back home. The lack of access to clean water has threatened her young children’s health with typhoid, cholera, and diarrhoea. Water borne diseases are the biggest health problems for her community, she said.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, mother of two young children Antonia Karina Ramirez Negrete takes a 40-minute walk each way to the neighbouring town of Temascal to fetch water. Her eldest daughter dreams of becoming a doctor some day, and Negrete sees that making sure her children are drinking clean water is one way to help them realise their ambitions.

The lives of these three women are featured in the documentary, “The Power of Clean Water,” produced jointly by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and National Geographic and screened in Singapore on for World Water Day.

Whether it’s the ability to attend school more regularly, earn additional income for their families, or teach their community about the importance of clean water, the documentary shows the power of clean water to move people, women especially, beyond basic survival so they can thrive.

Claude Zukowski, senior manager, P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program said that lack of access to clean water is a crisis affecting 844 million people worldwide daily. P&G’s program, which involves the distribution of their Singapore-manufactured Purifier of Water product to communities throughout the world, has delivered more than 13 billion litres of clean water since 2004.

The small P&G water purifier packet can purify 10 litres of potentially deadly water in only 30 minutes, enough drinking water for a family of five for one day. 

“We see it as our mission and responsibility to improve the lives of our consumers and employees, as well as serve the communities in which we live and work,” said Zukowski.

While some countries in Southeast Asia take the privilege of daily access to clean water for granted, up to 140 million people in the region do not have clean water access.

Lilian Chung, national director, World Vision International Singapore, said that access to clean water—particularly for women—can provide education and economic opportunities. “Clean water can improve people’s health, help children stay in school and provide better economic opportunities for their families,” she said.

Jill Cress, chief marketing officer for National Geographic partners, said the documentary reflects the very real and powerful stories of people whose lives have been impacted by programmes that provide access to clean drinking water.

“At National Geographic, we believe that great storytelling can spark curiosity, help solve big problems, and push the boundaries of what we already know,” she said.

The documentary also aired on National Geographic Channel in Bangkok, Jakarta, and Manila on the same day as its Singapore launch.

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