Saving Childrens Lives through Clean Water in Haiti

Nov. 22, 2004

A new water purification product developed by Procter & Gamble (P&G) was launched in Haiti, where diarrhea is a major killer of children under five, by an initiative funded by the Global Development Alliance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

PUR Purifier of Water was launched by the Safe Drinking Water Alliance, a public-private partnership created to increase access to safe drinking water by low income people which is comprised of P&G and three nonprofit organizations';the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Population Services International (PSI), and CARE. The Alliance is also implementing safe drinking water projects in Pakistan and Ethiopia.

Point-of-use water treatment approaches like PUR Purifier of Water have shown reductions of 30-50 percent in diarrhea disease, with even higher reductions during water-borne epidemics. PSI will use social marketing techniques to sell the product at a price affordable to needy Haitians through commercial and non-profit channels while CCP will promote home water treatment and diarrhea prevention, such as hand washing with soap, through a communication campaign.

In Haiti, diarrhea is the leading cause of death among children ages' 1-11 months and the second leading cause of death among children age's 12-59 months. Diarrhea is endemic in Haiti and occurs year round, although it tends to peak during the summer months. Diarrhea is a more significant cause of death among rural children under five, responsible for 41 percent of all deaths in rural areas compared to 32 percent in urban areas.

Water access and quality in Haiti have suffered considerably this year with civil unrest, severe flooding in May and heavy damage from hurricanes in September and October.

Simple, low-cost interventions at the household and community level are capable of dramatically improving the microbial quality of household stored water and reducing risks of diarrhea disease and death, according to the World Health Organization. Because of the potential public health benefits, more than 20 organizations, including each of the members of the Alliance, have joined forces to create the International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage. This network provided the opportunity for the connection that led to this unique Alliance.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

Image by Burnham RNG, courtesy twentytwo & brand.