THE BLOG

Fighting the Global Clean Water Crisis, One Litre at a Time

11/26/2014 01:44 EST | Updated 01/26/2015 05:59 EST
Shutterstock / PhotoSky

Clean drinking water is a basic human right. Yet, tragically, nearly one billion are forced to go without. I recently travelled to the Dominican Republic to witness one of the solutions to the global clean drinking water crisis -- a powdered technology distributed through the P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program.

It's brilliant in its simplicity. The program provides P&G water purification packets that clean water of dirt, bacteria and impurities, so it helps communities on the ground turn their existing contaminated water sources into clean, drinkable water. Each packet is essentially a water purification plant in a tiny package that can clean 10 litres of water in just 30 minutes.

I landed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is the relatively developed capital city home to 3 million people and the centre of commerce for the Dominican Republic. As we made the drive to the communities we were to visit, the scenery changed quickly. Paved roads made way to dirt and makeshift houses, many without doors and windows, took over the rural landscape. The lush beauty of the green Dominican countryside juxtaposed sharply with the poverty we witnessed.

We drove into a rural batey community in Monte Plata, Don Juan. Bateys are historically located near sugarcane fields so workers from the Dominican Republic and those that travelled from Haiti could live near the fields where they worked. With the sharp drop in production of sugar, unemployment is high and has led to bateys becoming some of the poorest communities in the country. Few public services are provided to these communities today.

Our first stop was a batey community health centre. The centre is run by the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA Dominicana). The P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program works with non-profit organizations like BRA to help distribute the water purification packets and teach families how to use them. The health centre is using the packets as part of their holistic health programs, ensuring clean water to help those living there live positively with other serious health conditions like HIV/AIDS. I met a woman who was suffering from a parasite that couldn't be treated with medication due to lack of clean drinking water. She shared her story with me, and I truly saw the impact of the program and the clean water it provides and how it has made on not only her lives, but the life of her family.

Batey Relief Alliance, one of the 140 partners that Children's Safe Drinking Water works with around the world to educate people about the clean water crisis and to get P&G's innovative technology -- the water purification packets -- to the people who need them most.

Our last stop of the day was a small village in Triple San Pedro. As we arrived, a dozen children, all under 10, came running up to us. They were smiling, hopeful, friendly, and eager to share their stories with us. Together we purified a 10 litre bucket of water and they helped me to stir, with children as young as four seeming familiar with the packets. It's become a part of their daily routine, and it's providing them with the life-changing clean water they so desperately need.

P&G has set an ambitious goal that really impressed me. At the Clinton Global Initiative, P&G made a commitment to save one life every hour by 2020. They will do it by providing 2 billion liters of clean drinking water every year.

We can't reach this goal alone, and the program continues to build partnerships to make sure we get there. From April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015, P&G has partnered with Walmart Canada to help donate even more clean water. For participating P&G products purchased at Walmart online or in store, P&G will donate a day of clean drinking water through the CSDW Program. Our clean water goal for Canada is 25 million days. We are at 15 million, and we need your help. In November, every participating P&G household product purchased at Walmart Canada will be a donation of one more day of clean drinking water to someone who needs it.

As a humanitarian and especially as a parent, it was heartbreaking to witness the need in the rural batey communities but it was inspiring to see the positive impact of the CSDW Program and the difference clean water can make. To learn more about the program and to track our progress, visit Walmart.ca/cleanwater.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

A Dozen Threats To Your Water On the Anniversary of the Clean Water Act