Unilever Launches Water Initiative on Facebook

Unilever, through the Unilever Foundation, in partnership with PSI (Population Services International) announces the launch of Waterworks, a not-for-profit programme that will provide safe clean drinking water to communities in need around the world.

Waterworks, which operates through a Timeline application developed jointly with Facebook, will connect people with means directly with people and communities in need. It was announced today, June 22.

Water is the source of life, but almost 800 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water. Preventable water-borne diseases, such as dysentery and diarrhoea are a particular threat to the weakest members of society: a child dies from water-related illness every 20 seconds.

[ Also Read: Water Wells to Serve Children in India ]

Recently, a ceremony hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) and leading humanitarian organization, CARE planned to provide more than 100 million liters of clean drinking water in Kenya and Ethiopia through an investment of over $1 million dollars. (Read: P&G and CARE to Provide Clean Drinking Water)

Earlier, P&G announced that more than 350 bloggers participating in its social purpose Internet campaign, the GIVE HEALTH Clean Water Blogivation, have reached the company’s goal of providing 100,000 days of clean drinking water to people in developing countries. (Read: Can Bloggers Provide Clean Drinking Water?)

[ Also Read: Blogosphere: Where Bloggers Promote Your Brands ]

Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, explains, “In July 2010, the United Nations declared that safe and clean drinking water is a human right; we share this belief and have made a public and ambitious commitment through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to provide safe drinking water to 500 million people by 2020. But to overcome a challenge of this scale, we cannot achieve this change alone; we need to work in partnership.”

Initially launched as a beta pilot, Waterworks is among the first Timeline applications for charitable giving, connecting Facebook users around the world with real individuals and communities in need. It is at http://www.facebook.com/Waterworks

[ Also Read: Beware, Facebook is Coming to Take Your Money ]

People will be invited to sign up to Waterworks and connect the application to their Facebook Timeline. They will partner with a PSI-trained Waterworker and choose a small daily donation – as little as EUR0.10. Their funds will directly support the water-poor communities, where Waterworkers will provide education about the benefits of clean drinking water and distribute life-saving Pureit water purifiers and sachets to families in need.

“PSI is excited to be working with innovative partners like the Unilever Foundation and Facebook to launch Waterworks – a clean water program rooted in community-based knowledge and action,” says Karl Hofmann, president and CEO of PSI.

In its initial stage, PSI will train 75 Waterworkers who will educate the neediest people in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India about the need for clean water and its opportunity to improve the health and wellness of their community. They will distribute life-saving Pureit sachets and purifiers to these families.

Each Waterworker will be given a mobile phone, preloaded with a custom Waterworks J2ME application that will allow them to take photos and record stories. They will share these updates back to their Partners on Facebook, demonstrating how their funds are making an impact in the community.

Photo courtesy: Unilever / Facebook

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