On International Women’s day March 8, 2019, and just ahead of World Water Day on March 22, 2019, Kohler executives and World Vision representatives came together to sign an important collaboration agreement on clean water issues.
The multi-country, multi-sector collaboration agreement with World Vision Asia and in particular with the Indonesian partner Wahana Visi Indonesia was signed by Angel Yang, president Kohler Company Asia-Pacific, and Christy Davis, executive director Asia P3 Hub, in the presence of Mr. Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., executive chairman, and David Kohler, president and CEO of Kohler Company.
The joint effort to alleviate poor access to safe drinking water, improve sanitation facilities, and good hygiene in schools will cumulate in a project involving five schools and kindergartens in Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines (VIP). This clean water project was incubated and facilitated through the Asia P3 Hub based in Singapore.
The project has kicked off with the sabbatical of James Bourne who went to Randoria on Ende, a remote island in Indonesia, to work with the local community developing innovative, child-friendly handwashing facilities in primary schools.
Working hard towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No 6: clean water for all, this new collaboration is part of the initiative ‘Kohler Social Impact’. This initiative which is dear to the heart of the management and every associate in the company aims to create a positive social impact across underserved communities and consumers through various stewardship and sustainability projects.
Considering that 443 million school days are lost due to water-related illnesses of which 272 million days are lost because children have diarrhea from consuming unsafe water (Global Handwashing Partnership), there is no time to waste. Clean water should be a human right, not a privilege.
In Indonesia alone, diarrhea is the main cause of death in children. The simple act of washing one’s hands with soap can reduce school-based absenteeism by 54%. This simple and healthy habit after using the bathroom and before eating could improve the lives of thousands of children.
According to UNICEF/WHO, as little as 48% of schools provide access to clean water or water at all and only 23% of schools have sanitation facilities. In the selected projects in the VIP countries, the team assessed that there were not enough toilets and open defecation was still practiced. The wells and water pipes were broken, and no hand washing facilities were set-up. Water was in many places unavailable.
In this collaboration, World Vision and Kohler Company bring their unique expertise to the table. Combining Kohler’s engineering, human-centered design, and sanitary products expertise with World Vision’s extensive footprint and knowledge of the local communities, the powerful team will support hand washing challenges in the project areas and deepen the impact in the children and families’s lives. Since October 2018, they have built and renovated toilets, water wells, and hand washing facilities, run workshops and habit change exercises. The project continues through May 2019 and the positive results are already apparent.
Read more about the handwashing project in Ende.