The Global Clean Water Crisis: What We Can Do

We live a very fortunate life. Our family is not wealthy—at least not by American standards—but we have enough food to eat, a comfortable roof over our heads, and clean water to drink.

It’s easy to take these things for granted. I remember the day my husband and I caught ourselves lamenting how slowly the water was coming out of our refrigerator water dispenser. Seriously. The clean, cold, safe water that was pouring into our home, that we didn’t have to walk three miles to fetch, that had been cleaned in a municipal facility and then filtered again through our fridge. Not our finest first-world moment. And definitely not the example we want to set for our kids.

But clean drinking water shouldn’t be considered a first-world privilege—it’s a basic human right. And right now, water is a global humanitarian crisis. The numbers are shocking. Ten percent of the world does not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Women and children (mostly girls) spend 40 billion hours a year collecting and managing water needs for their families, when they could be going to school or earning an income. One thousand children die every day from diseases caused or contaminated drinking water.

Children are dying because they don’t have clean water. This is our human family we’re talking about. That’s simply not acceptable.

The issue of global water access is so vast, I think we have to attack it in every way possible. That’s why partnering with the P& G Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) initiative appealed to me. The non-profit CSDW initiative was established in 2004 and has won several awards for innovation and humanitarian action. They’ve provided 9 billion liters of clean water to people in more than 75 countries, and also donate their water purifying packets as part of national disaster relief efforts.

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How they do it pretty fascinating. This is one of those instances where chemistry can save lives. Utilizing the research behind laundry detergent, CDSW created packets that remove dirt and contaminants from turbid water. People can literally pull a 10-liter bucket of water from a dirty stream, and easily transform it into a day’s worth of purified water for a family of five.

Here’s how it works:


CSDW sent us a kit similar to what a family would use, only smaller, for us to try out and demonstrate. The kids were excited to see how it worked. My 6-year-old called it our “science experiment.” I was excited to show them what kids who don’t have clean water pouring into their home can do to get safe, drinkable water.


First, we created dirty water. (Can you imagine this being the only water you have available to drink? Ugh.)


Next we added the water purifying packet.


Then we stirred vigorously for five minutes. At first, it didn’t seem to be doing much, but after about four minutes, we could see that the dirt had started to bind together in chunks.


The fancy word for what’s happening here is flocculation. The dirt and particles that muck up the water bind to the chemicals in the powder and separate from the water. Nifty.


Next, we waited 5 minutes for the floc to settle at the bottom of the jar. (As you can see, BoyWonder found this all very fascinating. He’s our little science guy.)


Next we poured the water through a paper towel to filter any floc left floating.


After the water was filtered, we waited 20 minutes for the disinfectant to do its work.


Then it was ready to drink. (In theory, anyway. They suggested we don’t drink this water, since one packet is meant to clean 10 liters of water. Our small-scale demo with a full packet had too much chlorine in it. But we would have tried it if it had been a full-scale demo. It looked really good.) Amazing.

The CSDW initiative has set a goal to provide 15 billion liters of clean water by 2020. The great thing is that it doesn’t cost much to help out.


  • Learn more and donate to the Children’s Safe Drinking Water initiative at their website
    • Each packet costs about 10 cents and provides a day’s worth of water for a family of five
    • $7.50 provides clean water for a child for a year
    • $30 gives a whole family clean water for a year
  • Watch and share the video below to donate a day’s worth of drinking water for a family. Easy peasy.


As a thanks for helping spread the word about the CDSW initiative, P & G has provided a giveaway for my U.S. readers! Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win a Procter & Gamble product basket (worth at least $50) AND a donation of $30 to CDSW to provide water for a family for a year. I’ll choose one lucky winner on Thursday, November 5th. 

Clean water is a human right. Let’s make sure more families get this basic need met.

(Giveaway Rules: No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited. Open to legal residents of US & DC who are 18 years of age or older.  Giveaway starts 10/27/2015 and ends 11/5/2015.  Sponsored by The Motherhood in partnership with Procter and Gamble. For the full list of rules, click here.)

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with P & G and The Motherhood. 


The Global Clean Water Crisis: What We Can Do

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Annie writes about life, motherhood, world issues, beautiful places, and anything else that tickles her brain. On good days, she enjoys juggling life with her husband and homeschooling her children. On bad days, she binges on chocolate chips and dreams of traveling the world alone.

Comments 23

  1. Thanks a lot, Annie for sharing your knowledge. It’s really a massive problem when ten percent of the world doesn’t access to safe water.

    I had no idea about CSWD before reading your post. But now it clear to me & really it’s a great innovation. I hope one day it will help the whole world to access clean water.

  2. Today having purified water at home have become one of the vital problems. A number of water dispenser are coming in the market which can help resolve this issue. Using the best water dispenser is essential.

  3. I appreciate CDSW on doing a good job in ensuring that many people have access to safe drinking water. There may be a time when most of the population in the world may not have access to clean drinking water.

  4. WOW! Thank you so much for sharing this. Clean water seems like such a commodity to some of us, and it is important to realize not everyone has the same access.

  5. This is so amazing! There is nothing better than being able to provide for others, especially those in need. This is saving lives and helping health conditions in impoverished areas. Thanks so much for sharing this, it is so good to have a philanthropic passion and water for everyone is an amazing thing.

  6. Thanks for sharing Annie! This is wonderful! We will be donating and passing this on in hopes of inspiring others to get involved. Wonderful to see your children taking part in this too!

  7. Oh Annie – you are the PERFECT advocate for this cause: tree-hugging, child-loving, water-drinking, education-promoting mother. The numbers of girls and women who miss out on education for the simple act of spending their time gathering water is what really hit me. You are so right that this is a human family crisis and we all need to be aware. Sharing it on my social channels right now.

  8. Thanks for sharing Annie! This is wonderful! We will be donating and paying this on in hopes of inspiring others to get involved. Wonderful to see your children taking part in this too!

  9. Flocculation. Learned a new word today! This is such an important project. Thank you for helping bring it to the public eye.

  10. Such a terrible problem. It is scary to think about how bad others have it, and also how sheltered we can be from how much others are suffering. Sounds like a great program and an amazing little packet!! $30 to give clean water to a family for a year – awesome! Thanks for writing about this.

  11. This is phenomenal. Seeing this process makes me so hopeful. I’ve been to many places where I would’ve been horrified to drink the water; fortunately, I was able to afford the 10-cent bottled water, but locals often don’t have that luxury. All children deserve healthy water, a staple of life. What a wonderful piece of progress. Thanks for sharing.

  12. We are IN!! What a wonderful program!!

    Donating can make a lovely gift in honor of family and friends, for teaching children as you did in your blog, Annie, and for ourselves to feel more connected to those in desperate need!! Thank you!!

    PS LOVE Motherhood and More and do get the updates! Thanks for all those, as well!

  13. I should get a couple of these packets in case our well acts up, or for backpacking trips, they are a good “just in case” item to have! See what I did there, “just in case” … “just in” Ahhhhh, I should totally win.

  14. I should link to this post during our next boil water advisory when people are complaining. Sure, I live in the States and by our standards we feel we shouldn’t get such advisories at the rate that we do, but this a good reminder that it could be worse. And that it is worse for a lot of people.

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