I was pleasantly surprised to find an e-mail in my inbox a few days after I posted Ding, Dong, PUR Water Calling. It was from Nikki Oliver, Proctor and Gamble’s (P&G’s) GIVE Program Community Manager. She addressed and answered some of my concerns mentioned in the post, and I would like to share them with you.
One of my biggest concerns regarding what we had been presented at BlogHer was that the presentation focused on the organizations that encourage local African women to sell the PUR packets to their communities. This was Ms. Oliver’s response:
The vast majority of PUR packets are distributed free of charge by CSDW’s safe drinking water partners in emergency relief efforts as well as ongoing community health program efforts in developing countries, especially in areas in which there is a critical need for clean water. (For example, last week we committed with our safe drinking water partners, to provide at least 50 million liters of clean drinking water to help flood victims in Pakistan. Over 5 million packets will be distributed free of charge by humanitarian relief organizations like World Vision, Oxfam, IFRC, Save the Children, & others.
A smaller portion of the packets are distributed through our not-for-profit social marketing partners (like PSI and CARE) who work with local women to sell health related products, as part of an effort to help establish local micro-economies and to empower women in impoverished countries to become more economically self-sufficient. In the developing world, products that are given for free are often seen as having little to no value and not worth making a behavior change. That’s why a key component of CSDW is education about the importance of safe drinking water to reduce illness and death which our partners provide through school, health clinic and community programs to bring about behavior change. We work closely with more than 100 partners around the world to ensure users are provided with the support, training and resources they need to use PUR packets effectively.
I found the statement about products that are given for free are seen as having little or no value quite interesting. I asked my circle of friends. While my husband did not encounter this culture when he traveled to South Africa, some of my other friends who have visited other countries on the African continent and have served in other humanitarian relief works in other countries, have experienced this in some cultures.
It does seem that the majority of the organizations that work with CDSW do give out the PUR packets for free.
I also believe in accountability, so I asked how those who blogged and voted will be able to see their clicks put to work. Ms. Oliver kindly pointed me to the website to allow us all to follow along with the project:
The water provided through the Give Health Clean Water Blogivation will be distributed through a variety of our current programs, including the ongoing Pakistan flood response we are working on with partners like World Vision, Save the Children, Read Foundation, HOPE and others. Other examples might include our work in Kenya with our partners at the Safe Water Aids Program (SWAP; www.swapkenya.org), or with Population Services International (PSI; http://www.psi.org/) in Sudan and many other countries.
We will showcase the results of the Clean Water Blogivation so readers and participants can see the impact of their clicks. You can follow the winning blogger on her trip to Kenya this fall with Dr. Greg Allgood on the http://givehealth.changents.com/ portal. You can also see the ongoing stories and pictures of impact on Dr. Allgood’s blog here: http://childrensafedrinkingwater.typepad.com/pgsafewater/.
While I personally prefer sustainable ventures for clean water (i.e. providing wells), I do believe the PUR packets have a purpose. I understand they can be especially helpful in disaster relief situations where they provide clean water almost immediately, as Ms. Oliver mentioned the Pakistan flood response. I appreciate the open dialog with P&G through Nikki Oliver. I do wish that there had been more emphasis at BlogHer on the organizations who give PUR packets away, or at least a more balanced presentation that better represented the true nature of the program.
The GIVEHealth Blogivation campaign provided 21,099 days of clean water for people around the world, according to the website. Thank you for being a part of that.
Thank you for all who read, commented, tweeted and dialogued with me your own thoughts and feelings about the PUR packets and Clean Water Blogivation program. I think the best things in life come out of open communication of our beliefs, values and challenges. Thanks for sharing with me how you would make the world better for our children and generations to come.