Clinton Brings ‘Buckets to Backpacks’ Program to Rwanda

'Buckets to Backpacks' Program in Rwanda
‘Buckets to Backpacks’ Program in Rwanda

More than 600,000 people in water stressed communities across Rwanda will benefit from a program that will distribute personal water backpacks that make it easier for women and children to carry water from source to home and to keep that water clean.

The 2-year “Buckets to Backpacks” program 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.

The program was announced as a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action by President Clinton at the CGI Middle East & Africa meeting, being held May 5-7 in Marrakech.

Said Kelsey Langdale, executive director of PackH2O, “we are thrilled by the partnership and collaboration of these efforts to support communities in Rwanda with this life changing public health tool.”

Many people in developing nations use contaminated, discarded jerry cans and containers to carry water from source to home. The Buckets to Backpacks program 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.

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 goal of the program 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.

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 sanitized 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.

Up to 2.4 billion people 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 harbored harmful bacteria. Water in a typical 20 liter container alone weighs 44 pounds.

Individuals and organizations can support the initiative in Rwanda, as well as relief efforts in Nepal, through a program with PackH2O.

Established in 2013, PackH2O is a US based non-profit headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Stars Foundation invests in organizations and ideas that transform the lives of disadvantaged children and their communities globally.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

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Rakesh Raman