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Why invest in water, sanitation and hygiene – Global issues

  • Idea by Ruth Loftus, Michael Alexander (london / edinburg)
  • Associated Press Service

For many international attendees, many of whom hail from the corporate world, the headlines were a deadly reminder not only of the power and value of water, but also of the flaws of the system. global in managing it properly.

It is indisputable that Pakistan’s latest flood disaster has been exacerbated by the climate crisis. With COP27 coming up in November and the United Nations Water Conference next March, business leaders, governments and key stakeholders must put water issues first. on the agenda and address them beyond the boardroom and throughout the supply chain.

To be fair, the important role businesses play in ensuring access to sustainable water is often overlooked. Having a safe, reliable and resilient water supply is essential to most manufacturing processes as well as to the health and well-being of employees – in addition, it also makes financial sense. reasonable main.

At World Water Week, WaterAid released its latest research ‘Boosting Business: Why Investing in Water, Sanitation and Sanitation Pays‘to demonstrate to companies the potential business benefits and financial returns of investing in these facilities.

This pioneering research was funded by Diageo, Gap Inc., HSBC, Twinings and ekaterra (formerly part of Unilever). The study took place over four years, in four different countries, across four different sectors – including tea production, the clothing and leather industry and smallholder farming.

WaterAid Perspective:

The quantitative aspect of our pilot is important as it is all about how and why investing in faucets, toilets and changing hygiene behavior is good for business. Not only were we able to do thought-provoking project work that specifically benefits the workforce and the broader community, but we were also able to quantify the impact that had on productivity. any; How many pairs of jeans were sewn together, how many teas were picked, how many missed school days were reduced, how many companies had to pay for reduced medical bills, etc. Then we extrapolate the data. data into the standout metrics – return on investment (ROI).

In short, installing clean water and decent sanitation facilities helps employees stay healthy. This means fewer absentees, reduced medical costs, and improved morale and productivity. For every $1 invested in clean water, our research shows that the apparel and leather combined sectors have earned $1.32 a return on investment and the tea sector is expected to earn 2.05 dollars.

To highlight outstanding examples – one of the ready-to-wear (RMG) factories in Bangladesh showed an ROI of $9 per $1 invested in WASH, while in one of our tea plantations Twinings in India, has $5 up $1 ROI in pilot program.

With continued investment over a 10-year period, the returns are even greater – indeed one of the RMG plants predicted to have an ROI of $30 to $1 – and if the companies also support support their community of employees, significantly more people will benefit.

It is also important to consider that some businesses will be affected by the initial cost of capital and the fact that profits are not always immediate. However, low-cost solutions can often yield big results in the long run.

Integrated within it is hygiene, which has become a topic for the council to consider during the pandemic, and the sudden world attention to increased handwashing has had such a lasting impact as is the first and most cost-effective defense against infection.

The key now is to think about how to sustain a beneficial change in behavior. Every workplace is different, but it’s time for companies to put the welfare of their workforce at the heart of their business strategy and prioritize clean water and sanitation.

Business conception:

At Diageo, we strongly believe that, since access to clean water and sanitation is a fundamental human right, all efforts should be made to achieve this global goal. Access to water is central to achieving education, maintaining health, and increasing employability, and it addresses gender inequalities in communities, as women bear the bulk of the burden for water.

We fully appreciate the huge positive impact of investing in WASH and have chosen to be the lead business partner in this groundbreaking research so we can finally prove the investment case. through solid research and data, and share the message with other businesses.

We will take the findings and incorporate them into our trading strategies. Strong, quantitative evidence is what we need to support the investment in WASH facilities that play a key role in our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) action plan: Progressive Spirit 2030, and we now have the data and evidence to accelerate this work even further.

Supply chain against the future

Investing in water and sanitation facilities should be seen as a core business priority and part of a water management strategy, not as an act of charity or corporate social responsibility. No longer seen as a charitable act or a way to clean up the business, but a wise and smart way to future-proof: for the community and for the business to grow.

Businesses must now think beyond the immediate factory fence and look at their supply chains and the welfare of employees inside.

As more and more extreme weather events occur around the globe and a growing population means an ever-increasing demand for water, more companies need to follow suit and have a greater presence. globally to address the crisis. Businesses have a vested interest in ensuring sustainable access to water, and now, a clear financial incentive to ensure lasting change.

If businesses, governments and civil society come together, key ESG criteria can be addressed and sustainable development goals (SDGs) to achieve 100% water access. , safe and sustainable toilets and sanitary ware by 2030, can be made.

*Ruth Loftus is a Senior Private Sector Advisor at WaterAid and Michael Alexander is the Global Director for Water, Environment and Agriculture Sustainability at Diageo.

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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