Safe drinking water is one of the world’s greatest needs, according to the World Health Organization. More than 1 billion people lack safe water, and an estimated 2 million children die each year because of diarrheal diseases, many of which could be prevented by safe drinking water.
Procter & Gamble, in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and governments, is working in developing countries to provide safe drinking water directly to people in their homes: this model has the advantages of cost, immediate availability and ease of distribution to reach rural areas.
The Procter & Gamble Health Sciences Institute, in collaboration with the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the product named PuR. It is meant to create safe drinking water through the removal of pathogens and the use of disinfectants in turbid waters.
The PuR product uses the same ingredients as those in municipal water systems, acting as a mini-water treatment plant in a sachet. Among other things, a small sachet of powdered product visibly separates the cleaned water from the murky masses and remains stable, providing the potential for long-term consumer use as well as for providing emergency water.
The product is packaged in small sachets that are convenient to transport and store. One small sachet, costing about US $0.10 in the commercial model, will treat 10 litres of water (enough drinking water for an average family for two days). PuR can also be bought in bulk quantities for use in disasters and emergencies or miniature treatment plants, The latest crisis in Haiti for example.
P&G believes that if it can provide affordable products that meet a real consumer need, then there will be demand for these products in the developing world. Initial efforts are underway to develop a sustainable market-based approach for delivery and to learn how to best make these products available. Three separate complementary models are being explored: a social model led by non-profit organizations; a commercial model led by the private sector; an emergency relief model led by relief organization.