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SM, UNICEF bring clean water to Masbate children

© UNICEF Philippines/2008/Alquinto
Colin Davis, UNICEF Deputy Representative / OIC, and Annie Garcia, SM Supermalls President, giving the water toast for the Drink for 2 partnership

SM Supermalls pledges to donate to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at least two million pesos to benefit over 2,000 children in the island province of Masbate.

Through its SM bottled water brand, SM Supermalls, recognized as the country’s leading retail company, once again leads the way by being the first corporate sponsor to support UNICEF’s effort to bring safe drinking water to the children of Masbate.

For every bottle of the SM distilled water sold, 25 centavos will go to UNICEF’s water and sanitation program, enough to provide two children access to safe drinking water for one day in Masbate.

The SM-UNICEF project offers an opportunity for ordinary people to take part in an extra-ordinary cause. “Buying a bottled water is a simple act of giving two other children the chance to have safe drinking water for one day. Just imagine, if all of us can give this chance not just for two children and not just for one day, but for over 2,000 Masbate children for the rest of their lives,” said Hans Sy, President of SM Prime Holdings Inc.

Masbate is one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines. Almost 60 per cent of the population are considered poor. Although surrounded by water, the island province has limited access to clean water sources and sanitation facilities. Only 35 per cent of households have both clean drinking water and sanitary toilets.

“This is our humble way of expressing our commitment to advance the well-being of children who are most in need and to contribute to building a better future for our nation,” Sy said.

SM Supermalls joins UNICEF in Project “WASH”, a national campaign to raise awareness on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). On April 22, the SM-UNICEF project will be launched at an event called “Drink for 2: A Toast to Clean Drinking Water for the Children of Masbate.”

The launch also marks SM’s commemoration of Earth Day and the observation of the International Year of Sanitation.

The project will initially benefit 100 households and six elementary schools in Masbate in one year. The SM-UNICEF partnership also showcases the difference corporate social responsibility can do for Filipino children.

“We chose to help the children of Masbate because the only way to achieve development for all is to offer an outstretched arm to those who are falling behind,” said Sy.

In a global report, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) say that more than one billion people, most of them in Asia, are still without improved drinking water sources while almost three billion live without improved sanitation.

“Without safe drinking water and sanitary toilets, children are most vulnerable to diseases and even death,” said Colin Davis, UNICEF Deputy Representative.

The Philippines is noted to have achieved rapid progress in ensuring access to clean drinking water and better waste disposal systems but greater effort must be made to reach the poor and those in rural areas, whose deprivation is hidden behind national averages.

This is not the first time that SM joined hands with UNICEF to support projects for children.   In 2006, with the intention of giving privacy and sterile surroundings to nursing moms and their babies, SM became the first “breastfeeding-friendly” mall with the opening of the first breastfeeding station in SM Megamall, Pasig City.  

Responding to UNICEF’s call to promote breastfeeding for children’s health, SM now has a total of 22 breastfeeding stations, receiving around 14,000 breastfeeding mothers. 

UNICEF hopes that from the example shown by the SM group, other bottled water companies and different sectors of society will follow suit to help even more children in the Philippines.

SM Bottled Water is available in 500 ml liter bottles in all SM Supermall Foodcourts, and selected restaurants and food kiosks nationwide.

 

 
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