ITT Watermark and Water for People: Internet videos stress water and sanitation needs
WaterWebster.org Staff Report
September 18, 2008
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ITT Watermark, the new ITT corporate philanthropy program, is offering a series of Internet videos on projects to increase safe water, sanitation and hygiene at 300 schools in developing nations.
The latest video features ITT CEO Steven R. Loranger in conversation with Water for People’s Ned Breslin and Dr. Darren Saywell of the International Water Association discussing ways to initiate successful school sanitation programs.
During World Water Week in Sweden in August, ITT announced it is donating $3 million over three years to a partnership between ITT Watermark and Water for People for school projects in Asia and Latin America.
Sanitation is a “fundamental and intrinsic area of economic development,” Loranger said in the Sept. 9 video discussion of school sanitation. “Just from a business standpoint, it’s absolutely imperative that we begin at the very root causes of what is creating poverty and try to address these.”
Saywell, development director for the International Water Association said 2.5 billion people worldwide lack access to good sanitation and 3,000 to 5,000 die each day from contamination-related problems. Lack of sanitation is the “biggest public health scandal of the last 50 years,” said Saywell. “It's an emergency which is largely silent” because it affects the poor.
The school sanitation discussion, moderated by Circle of Blue’s managing director Carl Gantner, was filmed in Vienna, Austria, during the IWA's World Water Congress.
Breslin, director of International Programs for Water for People, said during the discussion that an important goal of the partnership with ITT Watermark is breaking the cycle that afflicts some school sanitation programs in which safe water and toilets are installed, but over time become broken and unusable.
“We don’t want to do this anymore,” he said, adding that the approach of Water for People and ITT Watermark will be to encourage programs that can be maintained and that will be used.
The video's narrator notes that girls, who often are required to spend substantial amounts of time transporting safe water in areas where it isn’t readily available, drop out of school at far higher rates than boys. According to the video, 70% of the world’s poor and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate are women.
Another problem addressed by the ITT Watermark/Water for People partnership is widespread arsenic contamination in the water supply of West Bengal, India. As part of its work, Water for People and ITT Watermark will install 15 water filters in area schools.
Under the new program, Water for People and ITT Watermark plan to create local water committees in the communities where the schools are located. According to the announcement of the program, “the committees will take ownership for the projects and maintain the facilities long after the infrastructure is built.”
An ongoing monitoring program is part of the project. “ITT and Water For People will return to each school one year after implementation to monitor the safe water systems and three years later to evaluate their success,” according to the announcement.
The first video discussion was held in August in Stockholm and examined why “schools are the focal point for safe water distribution in underserved communities.”
The third video will be filmed in Chicago in October during WEFTEC, the Water Environment Federation’s Technical Exhibition and Conference.