This Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a $33 million contribution to initiatives in Latin America on his Twitter account. The resources will be Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm to the NGO Amigos do Bem in Brazil, and Unicef projects in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru.
“Our hearts are with the communities of Latin America most affected by COVID-19. We are providing US$33 million in new funds and grants to increase access to quality information and support the humanitarian efforts of partners such as Unicef and Amigos do Bem in the region,” Pichai said.
According to the company, Hispanic America is $17 million, of which US$1.5 million will be for Unicef’s humanitarian efforts, US$500,000 for other nonprofits, and $15 million will be in the form of Ad Grants so that local health authorities and NGOs can position verified and helpful information on Google at no cost.
In Colombia, efforts will focus on water, sanitation, and hygiene systems to facilitate educational alternation. For this purpose, US$270,000 will be allocated. The company explained that this intervention would be in 20 institutions in Chocó and Nariño, departments affected by armed conflict, natural disasters, and migration flows.
According to Google, the aid will benefit 5,000 students in the territories, who will have access to safe drinking water for at least five years, hand-washing supplies for six months, and hygiene kits.
The Viewer spoke to Susana Pabón, Google’s communications manager for Latin America, about this initiative.
What motivated Google to make this donation to Unicef? Have you done so on previous occasions?
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. Everything we do, from creating our products to our efforts with donations to the community, responds to that—how we can help organize what exists in the world. And Google has always been focused on getting closer to vulnerable communities and supporting them in times of need. With Unicef, we have been working for a long time on different action fronts.
In addition, some of those US$33 million will go to what we call Ad Grants, which are donations on an advertising agenda so that government entities or NGOs that want to target campaigns related to the COVID-19 theme can do so for free on Google platforms.
What is the emergency to be attended to in Colombia?
Of the $1.5 million we’re announcing today, $270,000 goes to build drinking water equipment and hygiene kits for schools and children in Chocó and Nariño. We want to support Unicef to get there.
Why prioritize hygiene needs in Colombia?
That’s a one-off need UNICEF saw. It was they who submitted this proposal. So is the decision to choose Chocó and Nariño. At Google, we are not experts in identifying needs in a pandemic. What we do is we approach these NGOs, who are the ones who know. And because of our long history with Unicef, we are confident that your decisions are right. We also monitor with Google.org so that the money is being implemented according to what was approved.
Have the institutions to be served already been chosen?
So far, we are announcing to Unicef that they have the Grant and they are delighted. But the execution hasn’t started yet. Everything’s coming.
Why did you choose Colombia and the other countries?
We have offices in those five countries in Latin America and Brazil. That’s where we have resources, both from googlers that they can support and from billing systems, etc.
What projects will be advanced elsewhere? Will they receive the same amount?
In Chile, we will be supporting the issue of playgrounds so that children can return. That’$ $150,000 so they can go to parks and wash their hands before getting on a treadmill, for example.
At Unicef Peru, the issue is going to be more specific on health issues so that oxygen tanks are available for people who are sick. That’$ $270,000 for oxygen and personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution.
In Argentina, we will be focused on food because many parents ran out of money, without work, and there are children in extreme poverty who have nothing to eat. That’$ $280,000 for food, nutrition, and hygiene.
And in Mexico it’s $300,000 for health and nutrition challenges. The rest is an administrative amount that Unicef needs for the timely implementation of these programmes.