Announced on Tuesday (30 May), the second phase of the collaborative partnership will aim to improve the wellbeing and living conditions of poor communities in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Uganda.

“Lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene is a huge global issue and a priority for the H&M Foundation. But it’s not something that any single organisation or company can solve – it requires global collaboration by governments, NGOs, civil societies and businesses,” the H&M Foundation’s global manager Diana Amini said.

“By partnering with WaterAid we have been able to make a real difference to individuals and communities, but also to contribute to the systemic change needed globally and nationally.”

Launched in 2014, the partnership is focused on delivering sustainable access to water and sanitation services across homes, health care facilities and schools in poor communities. The three-year programme is targeting transformational change for more than 250,000 students globally.

The H&M Foundation has so far donated more than £5.3m to WaterAid, and will match that donation as part of the second-phase of partnership which runs until 2020.

WaterAid will generate best practices and case studies from the work in the four areas to pass onto key stakeholders as a means to improve levels of sustainable and clean water, which are expected to drop by 40% by 2030 according to the United Nations.

WaterAid’s chief executive Tim Wainwright added: “Currently, around 900 children under five die every day from diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. This is something WaterAid is passionate to change. 

“With the funding from the H&M Foundation we will be able to transform the lives of some of the world’s poorest people with clean water and decent toilets – not just today but for many years to come.”

Liquid assets

Last year’s  Earth Security Index (ESI 2016) – a risk evaluation tool for business leaders and government bodies – released on behalf of the Earth Security Group, urged businesses to become “stewards of limited resources” and combat water scarcity.

Representatives of NGOs and large corporations including the Word Water Council, the World Bank, General Mills, SAB Miller and EDF have all previously extolled the role that collaboration can have in tackling water scarcity.

In fact, recent research has suggested that collaborative and innovative methods of introducing closed-loop water systems in water-stressed areas could save 11% of the annual global water demand.

Matt Mace

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