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Clean Water Crisis:
Celebrity activists fight to end poverty

ACTIVATE, a new documentary series, gives the behind-the-scenes story of what extreme poverty looks like in 2019, as told to Usher, Uzo Aduba and Darren Criss to name a few.

In Gwako, Nigeria, the townspeople know their river is contaminated. They see it in the sick children who cannot seem to get better; they see it when farm animals defecate not far away from the site where clothes are washed; they see it from the strange illnesses contracted after playing in the water. But despite this, living without would mean certain death.

In the final installment of the ACTIVATE docuseries, Uzo Aduba is in Gwako, viewing the struggle of those who live there with a certain amount of bewilderment. She is appalled that people in the world today cannot access clean water. It’s a relatable, and familiar, sentiment. In this country, we know that there are water shortages in far-off lands. Every year millions give to the likes of Comic Relief and Children In Need after watching their ambassadors contend with the realities of poverty in a developing nation. And in fact, life-saving sachets given out that can clean the water in this small rural Nigerian town seem a little underwhelming considering what a miraculous scientific feat they are. As demonstrated by Aduba and her team, you add the P&G-produced powder to a container of river water, stir, wait for 20 minutes, filter through a piece of fabric or cloth, and then sit back and enjoy a drink will not give you potentially fatal diarrhea. It is a solution that will stop people dying from preventable illnesses, but it feels wrong to take comfort in that when many of us here are able to simply trust the taps in our homes. But it’s a stopgap solution, and there are aims to fix the problem at the root.

Global Citizen’s vision is to end extreme poverty globally by 2030. It offers participants the chance to attend free concerts in exchange for following along with their particular brand of action, which is often putting pressure on legislators and asking them to be accountable for change. It’s simple and effective, and the issues they target cover a wide ground. At their summit in Nigeria, the Nigerian Minister of Financial Resources agreed that better allocation of funds must go into WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) in the country. In New York, Governor Anthony Cuomo last year pledged to end cash bail in the state, and now for non-violent crimes in 2020 that will become a reality. In the ACTIVATE series, Global Citizen’s message is that no system is too entrenched to be rebuilt, it just needs the right pressure. And Usher, maybe?

For every share of the Clean Water documentary episode with #ActForWater, P&G will donate one litre of clean water to those most in need. View the documentary here: T&Cs at

Words by Susanna Joseph

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