At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Middle East & Africa meeting held last week in Marrackech, His Excellency Amr Al-Dabbagh, Founder and Chairman of Stars Foundation, was on stage with President Bill Clinton at the announcement of the CGI Commitment to Action "Buckets to Backpacks".
Up to 2.4 billion people worldwide live in water-stressed areas. UNICEF estimates that women and children in developing nations spend 200 million hours collecting water daily, often from distant sources, and then carrying it home in discarded jerry cans and buckets that were originally used to contain lubricants, agrichemicals or fuel oils.
Furthermore, in almost all cases studied, the discarded containers harboured harmful bacteria. Water in a typical 20 litre container alone weighs 20 kilos.
The Buckets to Backpacks programme in Rwanda is expected to positively impact 600,000 Rwandan people by making it easier to carry water for daily household use and to keep it clean.
The PackH2O water backpack was developed to ease the human burden of transporting water and help to eradicate waterborne illness through solar disinfection technology that allows the PackH2O liners to be sanitised in the sun.
A business model has been developed around the assembly and the selling and servicing of the backpacks to support micro-entrepreneurs in the Rwandan communities.
“We are thrilled by the partnership and collaboration of these efforts to support communities in Rwanda with this life changing public health tool.” - Kelsey Langdale, Executive Director of PackH2O.
With the cooperation of the Rwandan Ministry of Health and local community support, nurses in the local communities will distribute the PackH2O water backpacks and help families understand the health benefits of keeping water clean.
The 2-year Buckets to Backpacks programme will bring 100,000 donated PackH2O water backpacks courtesy of Stars Foundation to people in Rwanda through a partnership of Greif FPS, the developer of the Pack, along with Partners In Health, Stars Foundation, the Rwandan Ministry of Health and PackH20.
PackH2O's innovative, for-purpose design to ease transport of water and help keep it clean was previously recognised by Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Popular Science's Best of What's New Award, and Global Green USA's Industrial Design Award.
The goal of the programme is to comprehensively address water issues and find long term, sustainable solutions. The project encompasses the distribution of water backpacks, education and training and the creation of micro-entrepreneurship opportunities.