Although access to clean drinking water isn’t of concern for most of the developed world, there are currently 2.1 billion people (or just over a quarter of the world’s population) that lack access to safely managed drinking water services. Of these 2.1 billion people, 844 million do not have access to any basic drinking water service (World Bank). What results from this are hundreds of thousands of deaths every year that could’ve been easily prevented through the successful efficient allocation of this basic resource. Not only this, but not having easily obtainable clean water negatively impacts key features of developing countries including agriculture, manufacturing, and job creation.
As a result, the lack of a consistent clean water supply is greatly impacting developing countries’ abilities to facilitate economic growth. Besides directly effecting the health of both a nation’s citizens and industries that rely on clean water, this resource’s scarcity can lead to much more detrimental and long-lasting effects on a developing nation. Education, for instance, has been positively associated with access to clean water as many families without easy access to clean water are forced to send their children on multi-hour journeys everyday just to find the valuable resource. What this then results in is a dramatic decrease in the population of children actively receiving education in these water-scarce areas. It is for this reason that many socially-conscious companies, like Stella Artois, are actively attempting to aid the developing nations in which this issue is prevalent.
In Sunday’s Super Bowl, viewers witnessed a series of commercials dedicated to convincing audiences that a given company is ‘doing good.’ One such commercial, and effort, in particular connected to the issue of clean water in developing countries. Stella Artois and their commercial spokesperson Matt Damon announced a new program in which Stella Artois will donate money to clean water causes because, in Damon’s own words, “millions of people in the developing world walk up to 6 hours per day for water.” Stella Artois, now, is offering the opportunity to help provide sanitary water for such people. The company claims that by buying a limited edition Stella Artois Chalice, supporters can provide “5 years of clean water”.
Further investigating into the program shows that what Stella Artois really is doing is taking the cost of the chalice and spreading it out. They offer three different chalice options: The Mexico Chalice, the India Chalice, and the Philippines Chalice. Each glass comes with a price tag of $13, and of that $13, $3.13 are donated to Water.org, where the real positive change is made. Damon, a founder of Water.org along with friend Gary White, is looking to help these specific countries via this initiative. The company boasts amazing success, particularly via their New Ventures Fund, which claims that, given donations and current expansion and innovations, 7.4 million people will gain access to clean water by 2024.
Of course, Stella Artois and Water.org made a substantial investment in gaining Super Bowl commercial space. That benefits of that investment for developing countries, however, will likely far outweigh the financial costs of its production.
- What other initiatives are there similar to this one to help developing countries?
- Are companies responsible for helping with issues such as this one? Or, are they manipulating consumers via deliberately associating their brand image with social responsibility?
- Can you think of times when initiatives like this have failed? When they have succeeded?
water.org, “New Ventures – Innovative Funding For Water & Sanitation.”. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.
Stella Artois. Water. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.
World Bank, Water. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.