Impacts of the Global Sanitation Crisis on Business



Adequate sanitation coverage is an absolutely necessary component of sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the 21st century. The contamination of people and ecosystems by human waste is one of the most significant contributors to infant and maternal mortality, poor economic growth, and lack of opportunity, especially for women. Figure 2 illustrates how insufficient sanitation services leads to these societal impacts, which in turn create risks for business. Addressing these sanitation-related business risks and impacts and actively contributing to the realization of global sanitation goals can mgenerate a wide range of positive outcomes for businesses. This section therefore explores not only the impact of the sanitation crisis on ecosystems and society and how those translate into risks for business, but also the resulting opportunities for business engagement.

How the sanitation crisis negatively affects businesses


From a business perspective

“Safe drinking water, proper sanitation/hygiene facilities, and an environment free from toxic waste are basic requirements for essential health and dignity. We believe that investing in workers’ health and improving their lives will contribute to decreased absenteeism, worker turnover, and sick leave at our suppliers, which subsequently benefit production productivity and our business outcome. This is one example of how we identify shared value initiatives by which we can have a positive impact both on our business and at the same time on the wider communities we are part of.” —Anna Eklöf Asp, Sustainability Project Leader, H&M India

Diageo’s Water of Life (WoL) Program in Ghana
“Over the years, Guinness Ghana have invested in a number of water and sanitation projects ranging from hand pumps, mechanized boreholes, distribution and storage systems and most recently investment in water health centers. The projects have become a major and reliable source of water supply to 70% of beneficiary households. The projects have had a further contribution to women empowerment, with 37% of women utilizing WoL projects for their commercial activities (such as food vending and hair dressing).  The amount of time needed to collect water on a daily basis has been reduced by 28%, allowing women and children greater opportunity to participate in community structures. Education of girls is greatly improved in communities with active WoL projects: amongst surveyed communities, there was a 92% increase in girl child school attendance and a 93% improvement in academic performance reported by school heads and teachers. In terms of enterprise development across the 40 surveyed communities, projects support some 34,000 local jobs (representing 32% of beneficiaries that depend on WoL projects for their small scale, cottage industries). The projects have further contributed to a reduction in water-borne diseases from between 3% and 15% in beneficiary communities.  These benefits in turn support the long term growth of Diageo’s business by building reputation, supporting supply chains, and fostering healthier, more prosperous local communities.” -Michael Alexander, Head Of Water, Environmental & Agriculture, Diageo

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