Posts Tagged ‘Planet Water Foundation’

Clean Drinking Water in Vietnam

According to reports from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, every year 3.6 million people die of water-related diseases.  Access to clean drinking water is one of the basic needs we work to ensure all workers in our supply chain have.

During an assessment of factories in and around Hanoi, Vietnam, our Supplier Sustainability Team discovered that clean drinking water was the #1 concern among workers at the Stella Group’s Golden Star factories in Hai Phong City, Vietnam (a port city located about 60 miles east of Hanoi).  Although the water within the factory itself was clean, we learned that the community where many of the Golden Star workers live is far away, and far more rural: Residents there have to rely on groundwater and rainwater for drinking and domestic use, with little (if any) filtration.

When Timberland learns that access to clean drinking water is an issue in workers’ communities, we call on our partnership with Planet Water Foundation to help meet the need. Planet Water Foundation is a U.S.-based, nonprofit organization that strives to bring clean water to the world’s most disadvantaged communities through the installation of water filtration systems and education on how to use them.

In Vietnam, Timberland’s Supplier Sustainability Team worked with Planet Water Foundation, the factory and the local community to determine the best location for two clean drinking water towers.  The final selections were on the grounds of two kindergartens, where the highest number of community members would have access.  The towers were constructed in July 2012.

One advantage of the Planet Water filtration system is that the system doesn’t require any consumables. The filters only require nominal daily maintenance checks by school staff, and can last seven to ten years. When needed, the filters can be replaced for a modest cost. In addition, Planet Water guarantees each installation and returns to the project site every three months for five years after the installation to ensure that the system is operating correctly.

While the primary benefit of the water towers is better health through clean drinking water, there’s a business case for brands and factories to provide a sustainable living environment for workers — as well as a humanitarian one. After all, when employees miss work because they’re ill—or have to stay home to care for sick family members—productivity suffers.

Golden Star Factory manager Doan Anh Tuan sums it up by saying, “This project has affected our everyday lives—not just at the factory but into our communities and schools. We’ll be feeling its impact for generations.”

Clean Water in India

Did you know:

  • 1 out of 6 people worldwide are without access to clean drinking water.
  • 50% of hospital beds on earth are occupied by people with easily preventable water borne diseases.
  • In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflicts since World War II.

Alarming statistics!  Unconscionable!!  Which is exactly why we joined hands with the Planet Water Foundation (PWF)  and long time business partner, the Farida Group, to address this very issue in a community where water borne disease was found to be highest in our survey among all the communities in India from where we source.  With a financial grant from Timberland, Planet Water Foundation and the Farida Group installed a drinking water tower at the Quaide Millath School on 10th March, 2011 to provide safe drinking water to the school children and the local community in Ambur.

With the Farida factory located just about 10 meters from the school building, it was a perfect location to address the issue for both the workers and their families and children.  Previously, the school purchased water supplied by local trucks but this water was basically undrinkable due to the bacterial contamination where both surface and underground water supply sources are polluted. Now, the community will have a continual supply of treated water from the tower which meets the standards of the World Health Organization, and uses no power or harmful chemicals for treatment.  And Planet Water provides more than just installation – the community was provided with education and training on water health and hygiene; local community members were trained on how to conduct easy daily maintenance procedures; and the filtration system is backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Timberland is proud to be associated with PWF and the Farida Group, and thankful that a sustainable solution for the Ambur community’s drinking water needs was found.  The looks on the children’s faces says it all…

Ramit Pal Singh, Head of India Operations for Timberland was there to witness the community impact:

It was indeed a great moment to see the direct impact on the community. We all know how much the communities are affected by water borne diseases, especially the children in places like Ambur.  The thing that moved me the most was the excitement and immense happiness with kids when they had the access to clean drinking water and realized that it’s here to stay. Being kids, they could not say it in enough words but you could see in their eyes and make out what they felt while they were jumping and clapping which was so very satisfying.  Work like this gives much more pleasure than just having a good day at office!

Community members and workers shared in Ramit’s delight:

“We are so grateful to you and your company that we do not have words to express our feeling. The sights of these children drinking clean and safe water bring immense happiness to us. Thank you so much.”  ~ Mrs Jayanthi.G.N

“We … have never seen such a buyer who cares about us so much…….. we know your tree plantation work in Ambur streets and now this facility for cleanest and safest water is unbelievable. Thanks so much.”  ~ Mr. Shabeen Taj.V

The school management expressed their gratitude as well…“We are fortunate that Timberland selected our school for this great work. We are dedicated to maintain this system as it is and God bless Timberland for all its great work.”  But really, a thank you must go to the school that worked diligently to secure approvals from government authorities and for allowing the community members to have full access to the supply of water.

Mecca Irshad Ahmed, Managing Director of Farida Group of Companies was also present for the installation of the tower and had this to say: “Great work and thanks to Timberland for its effort. I am gamed to put Water Tower in each school of Ambur with support of Timberland. So let this be a beginning …”

I agree 100%, Irshad.  Through our Code of Conduct assessments, we will continue to evaluate the need for clean drinking water in all the communities where our products are sourced globally.  In addition to India, we have currently identified such need in Bangladesh and Vietnam.  With support from valued business partners like the Farida Group, local schools in communities of need, and organizations like the Planet Water Foundation, solutions are becoming a reality.  Together we are making a difference…Thank you!