LifeStraw’s Follow the Liters Program Reaches Milestone, Providing Safe Drinking Water to More Than 618,000 School Children in Kenya
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Program Kicks Off Year of Major Expansion for the Water Filtration Leader
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Feb. 10, 2017) – LifeStraw, a global leader in developing innovative filtration and purification products for safe drinking water, is launching a big year of developments with its third annual Follow the Liters campaign in western Kenya from February 13 –24. At the end of the two weeks, the humanitarian campaign will reach a major milestone, bringing sustainable access to safe water to more than 618,000 school children. LifeStraw promises that this major feat is only the beginning of a high- impact year marked by a brand licensing partnership with the American Red Cross, the roll out of new filtration products, a greatly expanded retail presence, and additional programs that link its retail business to its humanitarian safe water mission.
LifeStraw’s Follow the Liters program is an ongoing campaign that follows a simple formula. When a consumer in North America or Europe buys any LifeStraw water filter or purifier, one school child in a developing country receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. This is achieved because a portion of the proceeds from retail sales is used to purchase and distribute high-volume LifeStraw water purifiers to school children in rural Kenya and rural India that don’t have access to safe drinking water, and to educate them on safe water practices. In February, LifeStraw will distribute 2,652
LifeStraw Community water purifiers and educate over 257,000 children and teachers at 380 schools in western Kenya and Homa Bay. After this distribution, 1,011 schools will have the purifiers, providing ongoing access to safe water to more than 618,000 school children. LifeStraw Follow the Liters has the goal of reaching over one million school children by 2018.
Furthering its mission to be the global safe water leader, LifeStraw also begins a brand licensing partnership with the American Red Cross in 2017. The American Red Cross recommends that households and businesses have a supply of water on hand for each person in case a disaster occurs. LifeStraw’s water filtration products provide American consumers with the confidence that their water will be filtration safe for use in the event of emergencies.
LifeStraw has also expanded its Safe Water Fund, an online non-profit platform that enables socially conscious individuals and organizations to support safe water programs. In 2015, the Fund mobilized access to safe water for victims following the earthquake that struck Ecuador in April and the hurricane that destroyed parts of Haiti in October.
On the retail front, LifeStraw will unveil an ambitious collection of category-expanding water filtration products designed for diverse consumer uses. These will be available in time for holiday gift sales. At the same time, the brand will enjoy a vastly increased retail presence with expansion into major mainstream retail outlets. LifeStraw is sold in North America through LifeStraw’s exclusive partner, EarthEasy, and can be purchased in retail stores or online at www.lifestraw.com.
About LifeStraw: LifeStraw focuses on innovation of technology that converts microbiologically contaminated water into safe drinking water with products that are designed to fit the needs of the people that use them. It is dedicated to improving the health and quality of life for people, many of whom live in developing countries. The first LifeStraw was the LifeStraw Guinea Worm Filter introduced in 1996, which has been instrumental in the near eradication of Guinea worm disease. In 2015, the personal version of a LifeStraw filter that could remove bacteria and protozoa to transform microbiologically contaminated water into safe drinking water was introduced for public health use in developing countries. The technology has been time-tested in some of the harshest environments and humanitarian emergencies since then. Today LifeStraw is used in 64 countries and includes filters and purifiers for households, clinics, schools, and for outdoor recreation, travel and everyday hydration. All meet the highest EPA and World Health Organization standards.
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- LifeStraw Community, used for the Follow the Liters campaign is a high-volume microbiological water purifier with a built in safe storage container. It provides safe drinking water by removing 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of viruses, 99.99% of protozoan parasites, and it can serve up to 100 individuals per day. LifeStraw Community has a lifetime filtration capacity of 70,000-100,000 liters or about three to five years. It doesn’t require electrical power, batteries or replacement parts, and is ideal for use in community settings without access to safe drinking water.
- The LifeStraw Follow the Liters program was developed to address the need for sustainable access to safe water at schools in developing communities where lack of such access causes illnesses. Students regularly miss school in developing communities due to waterborne illnesses. UNICEF Kenya has found that a comprehensive program of clean water in schools can result in a 42 percent reduction in absenteeism.
- Follow the Liters overcomes the problem associated with limited public funding available for many priorities in developing countries. Since distribution of LifeStraw Community purifiers only takes place after the funds are accumulated through consumer sales, the program is self-financed. By shifting the financial burden to consumers, the program offers a way to sustain a safe water intervention.
- Extensive planning goes into each Follow the Liters campaign. Planning and data collection begins several months before distribution. Local Kenyan LifeStraw staff meet with county health and education officials to identify schools with the greatest need. They then visit each school to perform a comprehensive needs assessment. Once schools are selected and purifiers delivered, the company uses employee-volunteers from around the world to help with distribution and education. All receive extensive training.
- LifeStraw Follow the Liters was designed to be measurable. In Kenya, LifeStraw staff conduct quarterly follow-up visits to the schools to collect data about use of the filters and the amount of water being filtered daily. It was also designed to be transparent, and engages consumers by providing specific and measurable data on the program’s progress and achievements. This level of consumer engagement is a very positive move for the future of development. As consumers take more responsibility for bridging the equity gap with communities that have less, it reduces the burden that donors and governments currently face.
- In November of 2014, the first Follow the Liters campaign covered 301 schools and 158,000 students. Each year LifeStraw has reached greater numbers of students, while also maintaining its commitment to serve the original schools. As of February 2017, the program will have expanded to a combined 1,011 schools, reaching 618,000 students; by 2018 our goal is to reach over one million students.
Communications Director, LifeStraw