Foreign Policy Blogs

Pepsi Hops on the Clean Water Bandwagon

PepsiCo has donated $6 million to the Earth Institute and will partner with H20 Africa, an NGO trying to increase access to clean water in rural Africa. The press release wasn't terribly specific, but I think that the $6 million donation will be supporting the Earth Institute in several sectors – water, climate, and agriculture – not just water as the release title implies. It also isn't clear what form their partnership with H20 Africa will take.

A fun thing about the press release is the number of times it mentions that Professor Jeffrey Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute and Matt Damon started H20 Africa. A cynic would say that this press release had more to do with providing PR for Pepsi, Sachs, and Damon, than with providing useful information on an important initiative. Pepsi in particular may be trying to correct a publicity problem. Their chief rival got into the clean water game last year.

But I’m just being grumpy. All press releases are about getting good PR, and I think charitable foundations are entitled to it. Also, clean water is a big deal. As the release points out, there are over a billion people without access to safe water, which makes them more susceptible to disease and hobbles their efforts towards economic advancement. Its an issue that needs a lot of banging drums, even if the drummers do have a number of side motivations.

But I’d still like the press release to tell me more about what they plan to actually do with the money.



Kevin Dean

Kevin Dean is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in international conflict management and humanitarian emergencies at Georgetown University. Before returning to school in Fall 2006, he spent six years working in the former Soviet Union - most of that time spent in Central Asia. He has managed a diverse range of international development programs for the US State Department and USAID. He has also consulted for several UN agencies and international NGOs, and is fluent in Russian. Kevin is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and studied Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Iowa.