P&G manager expands global reach of water-purifying technology; 7 billion liters cleaned

'We're doing an important thing'


CINCINNATI — Last summer, Allison Tummon Kamphuis stood alongside former President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, at a school in Kigali, Rwanda, and showed them how to purify buckets of dirty water with a pocket-sized packet.

Yet that high-profile moment wasn’t the one the Cincinnati transplant highlighted when she described her work as manager of Procter & Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program (CSDW), a non-profit the company runs.

Instead, she recalled a visit to a remote village in northern Ghana where villagers had tried to build a water well at least a dozen times, but to no avail.

“They had no choice but to drink out of dirty ponds we wouldn’t want to walk through,” she said.

She remembered the villagers’ reactions as they saw each hand-sized packet clean 10 liters of even the most contaminated water. One gallon equals 3.78 liters, so that one packet provided nearly three gallons of clean water for the villagers.

“It’s pretty miraculous to see that look on their faces,” said the 41-year-old former nurse. “It makes you know we’re doing an important thing.”

For Tummon Kamphuis, those villagers represent the nearly 800 million people around the world with no access to clean water. They also represent an opportunity to make a life-saving difference.

This Earth Day, CSDW announced their 7 billionth liter of water cleaned, one liter for every person on the planet, since 2004. That includes supplies to rural villages like the one in Ghana as well as emergency deliveries to disaster sites like post-earthquake Haiti and post-tsunami Burma.

Since Tummon Kamphuis joined CSDW in 2008, the group’s output has increased from about 500 million liters of water a year to 1.5 billion liters a year.

While she’s encouraged, she’s far from satisfied.

“It’s a drop in the bucket of what’s needed,” said Tummon Kamphuis, who took on the manager role of CSDW last summer.

So how does the world’s largest consumer goods company wind up running a non-profit that offers products to the world’s most overlooked populations?

By accident.

Insiders can read how the discovery was made and P&G's goals for the purification system.


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