For many years, we have demonstrated our commitment to sound water management in our own operations, focusing on water efficiency, effluent quality and water reuse. But we also are committed to moving beyond our own fence-line to address water issues within our communities in which we operate. We are working with stakeholders to better understand issues around access to water and sanitation, especially in water-stressed communities.
We’re investing in water stewardship projects around the world, especially in areas where access to potable water is limited. As we expand into new markets in more water-stressed regions, we are increasing our engagement with local communities on water issues.
Through our CEO Water Mandate commitments, we will work within the communities where we operate, as appropriate by location, to facilitate access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and promote sustainable management of water resources by:
In 2013, we increased our focus on water-related projects by funding a number of projects, including ones that provide clean drinking water facilities in disadvantaged parts of China and India. About 19 percent of all of our Global Week of Caring projects focused on water.
Our Ford Motor Company Volunteer Corps, meanwhile, is placing a priority on water-based community projects during our Global Week of Caring and Accelerated Action Days. In 2013, the Ford Fund supported 23 water-related projects in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, South Africa and Thailand. Projects ranged from cleaning up waterways and coastlines to providing new water pumps that will bring clean water to schools.
In the Kuttanad region of Kerala, India, residents must walk miles to access water from a community tap for drinking, cooking and bathing. The other option is to purchase expensive water from unreliable vendors.
Engineering students at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, had another idea. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the 2013 Ford College Community Challenge, 50 locally made rainwater harvesting tanks will be built as part of the Rainwater for Humanity project, a joint initiative between Brown and the School of Environmental Sciences at Mahatma Ghandi University in Kottayam, India. The tanks, which will collect rainwater in a region known for its significant rainfall, will serve three to five families apiece.
The catchment is self-sustaining and works on a pay-per-use vending system. Revenue generated covers operating costs, offsets the initial investment, and creates additional capital for future projects. Brown intends for the design to provide potable drinking water to 1,250 residents of rural villages in the region by the end of 2014.
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