WASH at the workplace pledge

Implementation of WASH for Workers and Communities – Case Studies

Nestlé has worked with the WBCSD on adopting and implementing the WASH Pledge throughout their value chain in India, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

Overview

Nestlé is a founding member of the WBCSD Pledge for Access to safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at the workplace, and was one of the first companies to join the initiative in September 2014.

As co-chairs of the WASH Pledge, the company also provides strategic input and support to the WBCSD’s work program on access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), including through a World Toilet Day CEO Call to Action by Paul Bulcke, CEO of Nestlé, in November 2015.

The WASH Pledge is a core element of Nestlé’s Water Stewardship strategy, which consists of the following:

  • Work to achieve water efficiency and sustainability across operations
  • Advocate for effective water policies and stewardship
  • Treat discharged water effectively
  • Engage with suppliers, especially those in agriculture
  • Raise awareness on water conservation and improve access to water and sanitation across the company’s supply chain

The WASH Pledge has been a useful tool to raise awareness about WASH within the company. Even though it was challenging to communicate clearly about the implications and requirements to the staff members implicated in implementation globally, making the WASH Pledge part of Nestlé’s existing Water Stewardship program proved to be effective, and has allowed for a link to the WASH engagement of the company in communities. In addition, implementation has greatly benefitted from having a number of WASH champions within the company which have had an important impact in terms of awareness raising.

Nestlé has now reached the end of its three year implementation cycle, and as the WASH Pledge provisions are now integrated into internal reporting systems, any arising gaps will be identified and addressed. WASH continues to form an integral part of Nestlé’s Water Stewardship strategy and the company will continue to support the WBCSD in its efforts of generating a business contribution to the achievement of universal access to WASH.

Country(ies) where the intervention is taking place

India, Cameroon.

Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

Lead Organization

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Objectives

The WASH Pledge is a core element of Nestlé’s Water Stewardship strategy, which consists of the following:

  • Work to achieve water efficiency and sustainability across operations
  • Advocate for effective water policies and stewardship
  • Treat discharged water effectively
  • Engage with suppliers, especially those in agriculture
  • Raise awareness on water conservation and improve access to water and sanitation across the company’s supply chain

Target markets

Factory workers.

Implementation and delivery of the WASH Pledge to ensure dignity and decent working conditions for the company’s workforce. All Nestlé sites are expected to supply their employees with adequate WASH facilities, reflecting Nestlé’s commitment to the WASH Pledge.

In addition, the Nestlé Guidelines on Respecting the Human Right to Water and Sanitation set out to ensure that operations and activities in the upstream supply chain do not negatively affect the human rights to water and sanitation.

Workplace Setting

Factory.

Scope of intervention

Direct operations.

Which elements of WASH are covered?

Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Hand washing with water and soap.

Which elements of the Framework for Business Action on WASH are covered?

Understand the issue, Make a Commitment and Take Action.

Methodology and tools that have been developed or are planned

 

WASH Pledge self-assessment tool: This free, Excel-based tool can therefore be utilized to help identify areas for improvement, and to support decision-making regarding investments and priority actions. The tool is meant for use within an individual company’s facility. It is structured across the following categories: General; Workplace Water Supply; Workplace Sanitation; and Workplace Hygiene.

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé Central America:

In some factories, a WASH survey with local workers was performed to understand current access to safe water and adequate sanitation in their homes. In response to the survey, the Antigua Maggi Factory in Guatemala financed eco-filters for workers’ home to ensure their access to safe drinking water. In addition, the Dairy Matagalpa Factory in Nicaragua created a WASH committee to develop water conservation projects with the community.

Particular attention was paid to employee awareness raising about the WASH Pledge. Each site presented the WASH Pledge to their employees in quarterly meetings, and the region’s Human Resources department also presented the WASH Pledge in quarterly videoconferences for all employees in the region. In addition, videos, brochures, and other materials were used to raise employees’ awareness in the individual sites. The WASH delegates played an important role in this process in encouraging employees and presenting the benefits of implementing WASH at the workplace.

Indicators/metrics that have been developed to track progress

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé Cameroon:

The Douala site met the Pledge’s overall compliance level where a 100% score was achieved in all areas to full satisfaction. The assessment showed the importance of establishing adequate water and sanitation facilities for more than 500 workers on site and in providing safe and clean drinking water at two water fountains for the local communities.

A minor gap was found in the site, namely that there was no toilet for disabled people in the factory. To address this, a new locker room with a toilet for disabled people was built. In addition, the size of the locker room was increased because the number of staff had grown considerably over time. A CAPEX investment was used to finance this. Feedback from the assessment will be used as a guide for other sites in Cameroon, such as at the distribution centers and head office.

Government partners and/or the local policy environment

Implementation and delivery of the WASH Pledge to ensure dignity and decent working conditions for the company’s workforce. All Nestlé sites are expected to supply their employees with adequate WASH facilities, reflecting Nestlé’s commitment to the WASH Pledge.

In addition, the Nestlé Guidelines on Respecting the Human Right to Water and Sanitation set out to ensure that operations and activities in the upstream supply chain do not negatively affect the human rights to water and sanitation.

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé Central America:

Compliance with local / national laws and regulations: In order to comply with local and national laws, environmental site permits to operate one of the distribution centers had been requested but were in pending status with the authorities (owing to local government’s lengthy bureaucratic procedures and lack of resources). Throughout the year, the WASH delegate requested the pending permit directly from the local authority, did some lobbying and requested frequent meetings until the permit was delivered.

Outcomes, successes and ongoing challenges

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé India:

Beyond the WASH Pledge, Nestlé India has also been active in WASH provision beyond the company fence. This includes the construction of clean drinking water facilities in schools around factories benefitting over 109,000 students, water awareness programs, as well as the construction of sanitation facilities for girls in village schools across all factory locations in order to increase school attendance of female students, benefitting over 80,900 girls.

Using the WASH Pledge self-assessment tool as a guide, trainings were conducted explaining the criteria for WASH, how all these fragmented activities contribute to achieving the WASH Pledge provisions and their importance for the people working in the company. This training was very useful in providing the assessment teams the context and ‘big picture’ behind the activity.

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé Cameroon:

The WASH Pledge has made the factory staff more responsive to WASH and environmental issues. They have learned to understand the consequences and impact of their actions on the environment around the factory and on the WASH-related behavior of employees. The WASH Pledge has enabled the factory to better engage with the communities around as well as with the local authorities.

With the actions implemented the factory staff is very happy and more committed. In terms of health and safety, they now have enough space with new toilets and locker rooms.

The self-assessment exercise has given the factory the confidence that it is on the right track when it comes to providing adequate water and sanitation facilities to its employees and visitors as well as the local community. This has also instilled a sense of pride for factory employees and allowed the company to strengthen the relationship with the local community.

WASH Pledge implementation Nestlé Central America:

 

Beyond increasing productivity, the impact of WASH Pledge implementation was to have better educated employees about the human rights to water and sanitation and Nestlé’s reasons for supporting this initiative.

It is very helpful to have company leaders involved, and for someone inside the management committee to strongly believe that WASH is part of overall company strategy and that the company will benefit from it. Furthermore, it helped to incorporate the WASH Pledge self-assessment tool into the factories’ Operational Master Plan (OMP).

Beyond this, communication was key. In Central America, this was done through a powerful roll-out plan in collaboration with the marketing/communications team, which helped get employees on board. The WASH delegates were crucial in this process; and it helped to have recruited delegates that have sensitivity for social/environmental goals, are doing this out of their personal motivation and support the wider positive impact of the cause.

Links to learn more

https://www.wbcsd.org/contentwbc/download/2005/25463

https://www.wbcsd.org/Clusters/Water/WASH-access-to-water-sanitation-and-hygiene/WASH-at-the-workplace-Pledge

https://www.wbcsd.org/Clusters/Water/Resources/WASH-Pledge-Self-assessment-tool-for-business

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