Vestergaard, a Swiss-based global public health company, launched its LifeStraw Follow the Liters program in Kenya this week, in partnership with its North American distributor, Eartheasy. High-volume LifeStraw Community water purifiers were distributed to more than 300 rural schools, to provide more than 23 million liters of safe water a year to 150,000 school children throughout Kenya’s Western Province.
The purifiers were made possible through the LifeStraw Follow the Liters program which harnesses the collective power of individuals to help solve one of the world’s most pressing issues – lack of access to safe drinking water for people in developing countries. When a consumer purchases any LifeStraw product, a portion of the funds are used to provide one school child in a developing community with safe drinking water for an entire school year.
UNICEF Kenya has estimated that only 37% of schools have access to safe drinking water within 200 meters of the school grounds. Limited access to safe water options can lead to consumption of contaminated water while children are at school. This causes illnesses and absences, which hinder a child’s ability to receive a proper education. According to UNICEF, a comprehensive program of safe clean water in schools can result in a 42% reduction in absenteeism.
The LifeStraw Follow the Liters program is a result of a tremendous effort in planning and logistics and extensive coordination with the Government of Kenya, said Vestergaard. From October 6-16, 16 teams comprised of trained health educators, distributed more than 1,600 LifeStraw Community purifiers to more than 300 schools throughout Kenya’s Western Province. School visits included student education about safe behaviors associated with water consumption, hygiene and sanitation and distribution of soap for hand washing.
The LifeStraw water filter was first introduced by Vestergaard in 2005 for public health use. The filter converts microbiologically contaminated water into safe drinking water that meets US EPA standards for water quality. Since then, the LifeStraw brand has expanded to include additional water purifiers for use in the household, clinics and schools. In 2008, Vestergaard began selling its LifeStraw filters directly to consumers, targeting outdoor enthusiasts. The newest product, LifeStraw Go, incorporates award-winning LifeStraw technology into a durable, refillable water bottle ideal for hikers, runners and campers.