Unilever marks world water day with a new Bangladesh programme

World water day on 22 March marked the start of building work on a Unilever-backed programme to provide safe drinking water for communities in Bangladesh.

Delivering clean drinking water

The construction of the first of several sustainable clean water sources marks the culmination of months of preparation between Unilever and implementation partner Wateraid.

By 2013, Unilever and Wateraid aim to:

  • Provide access to sustainable safe drinking water to 77,000 people
  • Provide 100,000 people with access to hygienic toilet facilities
  • Improve hygiene practices of 400,000 people.

Support that saves lives

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change in the world. High tidal surge during cyclones often causes the protection embankments of freshwater ponds to overflow, making the water unsafe to drink.

The first climate-resilient pond that provides safe drinking water is funded with donations from Unilever employees from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Susanne Bilijes, Brand Manager, Ice Cream, who volunteered her support for the programme, said: “I wanted to take the first step and use the opportunities we have to improve the lives of children in developing countries.

“This supply of safe water will change lives in this community tremendously. Children will be able to go to school instead of fetching water, and the average distance people have to travel to reach clean water will be reduced.”

Project Laser Beam

The Wateraid partnership is part of Unilever’s Project Laser Beam initiative, which supports the ambition – stated in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – to bring safe drinking water to 500 million people by 2020.

Currently one in eight people around the world do not have safe water to drink. And 4,000 children die every day from conditions caused by poor sanitation.

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