This commitment builds upon the success of the PackH2O backpack, developed by Grief in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, and scales its use to Rwanda in partnership with the Rwandan government.
The PackH2O water backpack transports water from the source, and cleanly stores it in the home. Efficient, low-cost and scientifically tested, PackH2O is safe and easy for women and children to use. It is 7 times lighter and 7 times smaller than a 20-liter jerry can, and its ergonomic design evenly distributes 40 lbs. of water on back and hips.
Partners In Health (PIH), the Rwandan government, Stars Foundation and Greif envision that the backpack will improve health outcomes for children. The commitment encompasses the distribution of water backpacks and the creation of micro-entrepreneurship opportunities, as well as supporting the Ministry of Healths new health post initiative, intended to provide access to basic primary health care services within reasonable walking distance of every village.
To execute this commitment, the partners will:
1) Distribute 100,000 PackH2Os to address the issue of water transportation and clean storage
2) Provide education and socialization around the proper use and maintenance of the backpacks, as well as proper hygiene, sanitation and basic water supply storage
3) Build one micro-production facility to manufacture the packs in country to fuel micro-businesses, with additional operation and maintenance support, as well as funding from Greif
4) Provide $150,000 to improve the infrastructure of a minimum of 6 community health outposts
5) Conduct an operational study to evaluate effectiveness of the packs in Rwanda
This commitment is expected to positively impact 600,000 Rwandan people within 100,000 households by transforming personal water collection, transport, and storage. The initiative is aligned with the national health post system therefore, if successful and scaled, its vision is to strengthen this infrastructure, potentially reaching an estimated 8 million people in Rwandan communities.
For almost a decade, PIH and Inshuti Mu Buzima (IMB) has served as one of the MOHs primary innovation and implementation partners; developing, testing, and demonstrating the feasibility of new interventions that leverage existing resources to address public health priorities.
As a global industry leader with proven manufacturing and distribution infrastructure in more than 50 countries, Greif is strategically positioned for efficient, low-cost delivery to the worlds water-stressed regions and known disaster zones.
January - December 2015: Phase One
The goals of Phase One are to work with health post staff to sensitize the market for PackH2O in Rwanda as a safer alternative to jerry cans for water transport. To accomplish these goals, PIH/IMB will:
- Identify approximately 200 pilot health post communities within southern Kayonza and/or Kirehe Districts for initial PackH2O distribution (Q3 2015)
- Begin disseminating materials such as pamphlets, schematics, pictures and videos and provide training through live demonstrations and other proven learning methods
- Support the improvement of health posts infrastructure in communities with urgent need through small capital improvement grants via a capital improvement grant program administered by PIH in concert with the Rwandan Ministry of Health (2016)
- Distribute an initial 10,000-20,000 PackH2O units to vulnerable families in these targeted communities (starting Q4 2015)
- Implement field surveys for analysis of pack use and community response in order to monitor health impact and conduct market sensitization (Q1 2016)
- Formalize a stakeholder engagement strategy, and design preliminary business plan scenarios based on these experiences (Q1 2016)
These initial sites will serve as a base from which PIH/IMB will develop a preliminary business model. While the cooperative model is well established in Rwanda, it has not yet been utilized as a primary means of income support for health post staff. Similarly, the PackH2O represents an entirely new kind of product in the Rwandan market.
January 2016-March 2017: Phase Two
During Phase Two, PIH/IMBs goal is to build on experiences from Phase One to increase exposure of the rural Rwandan market to the benefits of PackH2O; and accompany health post cooperatives in establishing successful PackH2O manufacturing businesses.
To meet these goals, PIH/IMB will undertake the following activities:
- Expand PackH2O distribution to two additional districts in the Eastern Province. By strategically deploying 80,000 90,000 PackH2O units over a wide geographic area, PIH/IMB will both increase vulnerable families access to clean water, and demonstrate the value of the Packs to their communities, establishing a potential customer base for health post cooperatives (Q2 2016)
- Establish one micro-manufacturing facilities and a network for local production linked to the provincial health post nurse cooperative that will sell the backpacks, providing training and support for members of the cooperative in the manufacture and marketing of the PackH2O (Q3 2016).
- Conduct an operational analysis on a sample set of districts to evaluate the backpacks impact on family health, and the feasibility of creating market demand and scale-up elsewhere in Rwanda (October 2016-March 2017)
The World Health Organization estimates that 2.4 billion people live in water-stressed areas. Water borne-illnesses steal time, livelihoods and lives from people who do not have access to clean water piped into their homes. Unfortunately, the effect of the global water crisis is felt most acutely by women and children. Around the world, 90% of the 30,000 people who will die each week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions will be children. And women in water-stressed regions walk an average of 3.5 miles every day carrying up to 40 pounds of water in containers on their heads, or lugging jerry cans in their hands.
In Rwanda, according to the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey in 2010, 53% of households spend 30 minutes or longer traveling to obtain water. Women and children suffer disproportionately as they bear the principal burden of carrying these heavy loads. In addition to painfully straining their back and often causing spinal injuries, a womans time spent carrying water from source to home is lost time: time away from her children and away from work. Rwandan children everywhere are directly affected by the consequences of their mothers long and arduous trips to obtain water.
Rwandan children also face serious risks from water-borne illnesses. Thirteen percent of children under the age of five suffer diarrhea contracted from untreated water. This rate is highest among children aged 12 to 23 months old. These illnesses are in addition to the grave consequences of severe malnutrition across the country; malnutrition causes stunting in 44% of Rwandan children.