P&G Children's Safe Drinking Water Program Wins Economist Innovation Award

Named one of the World's Most Impactful Innovations
Monday, November 19, 2012 9:41 am EST

Calling it an innovation “beyond inspiration,” a panel of global judges named P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program one of the world’s most impactful developments, presenting it with the 2012 Economist Social Innovation Award.

The program was recognized for both the creation of the “miracle powder” by Phil Souter, Section Head, Research & Development, and the creation of distribution strategies and partnerships to put the powder in the hands of people around the world who need it most by Greg Allgood, Director, Communications.

“As a Company, we are both honored by the recognition and inspired by our employees and global partners who have worked to deliver more than 5 billion liters of clean drinking water to families in developing countries, helping save nearly 30,000 lives,” said P&G Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Bob McDonald. 

The award was presented during The Economist’s 11th Annual Innovation Award Gala at the NAFTA Center in London and attended by global leaders in business, academia, research and development and government. Winners were named in eight categories, including bioscience, energy and the environment, social innovation and computing/telecommunications. For a full list of winners and their categories, click here

Souter, a 15-year P&G employee, invented the powder technology that when mixed with water removes dirt, cysts and pollutants, while killing bacteria and viruses. Souter first began working on the innovation when he was a research scientist, studying the possibility of recycling laundry water to help with water shortages. At the same time, personal travels took him to Southeast Asia where he saw a broader need: clean drinking water globally. When he changed assignments, Souter took his new passion with him. And when asked to focus on developing new products, he requested and won funding for more research on making safe drinking water. He went from an idea to a product within two years. 

“I started to think about whether the bigger opportunity might be to clean up water people were drinking to make it safe to use. Combining the technical insights from the wash water recycling with the consumer insights from my travel experiences led me to believe that I might have found an opportunity where I could actually make a difference,” Souter said. 

Now called P&G Purifier of Water, the powder comes in small packets, and when stirred into 10 liters of dirty water, it causes heavy metals, dirt, and parasites to pull together, then fall to the bottom of the container. The water can then be strained through a filter cloth. In just 20 minutes, the disinfectant in the powder leaves the water clean enough to drink.

Allgood, a 26-year P&G employee, has served as Founder and Director of the non-profit P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program since 2004, helping take Souter’s innovation to families and children around the world. The Economist called Allgood’s work the second innovation in the story, creating new distribution strategies with global organizations to help distribute the packets where they are needed most and innovating to find ways to scale-up the program through partnerships, enabling P&G to deliver more than it could alone.  

“This award recognizes the people behind the innovation, those who implement an idea to improve the world,” said Economist Editor Tom Standage. “This innovation and the work of (the Children’s Safe Drinking Water) program is saving lives.”

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P&G Global Sustainability and P&G Brand Communications
Lisa Popyk, 513-983-5058
513-608-7958 (cell)


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