Students Organize Second Annual Walk for Safe Drinking Water in India

October 26, 2017

Students from UT’s Haslam College of Business will host the second Hands Across the Water walk at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 29, at Circle Park, 1345 Circle Park Drive. Registration for the walk begins at 2 p.m.

The walk, which includes 3K and 6K options and supports safe drinking water in India, is a partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT-SOM) in Pune, India.

Proceeds will be used to purchase water purification packets from P&G that remove more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, parasites, heavy metals, chemicals and solid waste. Waterborne illness caused by unsafe drinking water is the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to the walk’s website.

“The goal of the project is to research, fund and establish a sustainable model for the not-for-profit distribution of P&G’s water purification packets in rural and urban India,” said Lauren Patterson, a senior studying economics, international business and public policy.

Patterson is part of a 24-student team from Haslam working on the project with nine students from MIT-SOM, who came to Knoxville for the event. The MIT-SOM students will present their progress distributing the packets to Indian villages at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, October 26, at UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Ave.

“It is important for the people in India to know the importance of clean drinking water as well as the impact of the packets on women and children,” said Jessyca Ford, a junior studying human resource management and another member of the event team. “Ultimately these packets enable children to go to school and learn, while the women are able to make a better life for their families by working because they don’t have to make the strenuous trek to get clean water."

The walk’s lengths, along with the option to carry multigallon jugs, simulates the efforts that people in developing countries undertake each day to obtain clean drinking water.

P&G sponsors a series of similar walks across the country. The Haslam students have raised $13,480 to date through registrations and sponsorships. Their goal is to raise $15,000 so they can provide 1.5 million liters of clean drinking water for India. Last year’s walk drew more than 150 participants and raised almost $8,000.