P&G – METRO – HOPE: An anniversary partnership bringing clean drinking water to disaster-struck communities in Pakistan

Sep 18, 2014 11:00 AM ET

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program, we continue to work with our emergency relief partners to provide one of the most urgent needs in times of natural disasters - clean drinking water. From the 2004 SouthEast Asia tsunami to the floods in northern India and Pakistan, the P&G Purifier of Water packets continue to make a difference to those facing extreme conditions in floods, droughts, hurricanes and earthquakes. Today we are pleased to post this guest blog from Claudia Manuel, P&G Pakistan Communications Manager who shares more about a unique partnership that gives the most basic and vital gift to those who need it most. Shukriya Claudia!

I am very pleased to share with you today, news of our latest collaboration. We have joined hands with our business partner METRO Cash and Carry and long-term NGO partner Health Oriented Preventive Education, better known as HOPE, for a new venture under the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program.

This year, our trusted business partner, METRO Cash and Carry celebrates its 50th anniversary. This is an important milestone for any company and a cause for celebration. On this very special occasion we offered to recognize this milestone through a partnership together to support our Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program which they gladly accepted - and so together we are helping families affected by various natural disasters in Pakistan by providing access to clean drinking water.

Through this joint effort, we have made available 24 million liters of clean drinking water to HOPE through P&G Purifier of Water packets. We estimate that this much water is enough to sustain more than 400,000 people for a month. Our partner HOPE will ensure this reaches people affected in the current drought-stricken region of Tharpakar and in areas ravaged by floods which have hit the country once again in the North just a week ago.

In May, Faisal Sabzwari, General Manager P&G Pakistan announced this partnership at a press conference with Bouzeneth Benaouda, Managing Director METRO Cash & Carry Pakistan at the METRO Cash and Carry outlet in Lahore, Pakistan. The occasion was well attended by the media community who has always been a keen supporter of our efforts, to touch and improve lives of our consumers and the community through the years. The event featured a live demonstration of the P&G Purifier of Water packets at work by Dr. Mubina Agboatwalla, Chairperson of HOPE NGO. At first, many were skeptical about the product - could this powder possibly purify a jar of dirty, contaminated water, they wondered? Some minutes later, the audience watched in silence as the dirt began to accumulate and sink to the bottom of the jar. This turned out to be the highlight moment of the day as guests walked away truly amazed by what the contents of this little sachet could do.

Many are already beginning to experience the joy of clean water. Over July and August, the HOPE team visited Tharpakar to provide much needed drinking water to the drought-stricken people there. The Tharparkar catastrophe is one that has been brewing over time. Tharparkar is the largest desert of Pakistan. It rests on an area of 22,000 square kilometers and is home to around 1.5 million people. Whilst the land is fertile, the production of crops is dependent on summer rains – unfortunately however for the last 10 years the people in Tharpakar have faced drought.

The water reservoirs in the Tharpakar area are nearly dry, the shortage of food is critical and large numbers of livestock have perished due to the severe climatic conditions. In addition to this the people do not have health facilities nearby - the nearest health facility being more than five kilometers away. As a result of this a large proportion of the population has migrated to barrage areas in search of basic necessities - food and water.

Easy access to safe drinking water is an acute problem affecting the lifestyle, health and livelihood of the local communities. Their source of water is wells but the water quality is not optimal as the open dug wells are at risk of getting contaminated with bacteria, viruses and fluoride or heavy metals. This has increased the vulnerability of the local population to illnesses including gastroenteritis, diarrhea as well as kidney and abdominal problems.

During June and August a team from HOPE setup free distribution camps of the P&G Purifier of Water packets in the Mithi and Chhachhro areas of Tharpakar. Many people gathered to watch the HOPE team demonstrate the use of the P&G Purifier of Water sachets and explain its benefits in their local language. The people were excited to participate in the water purifying process and could hardly wait to drink the water after it had been strained. One of the residents of the area took the first sip of the purified water and exclaimed, "This tastes great! The water is nice and clean.”

These camps have helped around 2,000 vulnerable families by distributing 240,000 P&G Purifier of Water packets. This is 2.4 million liters of clean drinking water to meet their needs for 4 months. Along with the P&G Purifier of Water sachets, the HOPE team also distributed much needed equipment, which is essential for the water purifying process. This included a storage container, bucket, stir spoon and a piece of cotton filter cloth for each family.

This is the first relief response effort under our joint initiative with METRO Cash and Carry. We are humbled, by the response of the media who continues to raise awareness of the need for safe drinking water, those who support us in making a difference in the community, and especially by the people of Tharpakar who are so resilient and have greatly appreciated our efforts. As the program progresses we are hopeful that many more will benefit through this cause!