Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

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.”