Ten years ago, Xylem partnered with Planet Water Foundation to work with the non-profit on their mission to alleviate the global water crisis and eliminate water poverty. Over the last decade, the partnership has provided more than one million people with access to safe, reliable drinking water and hygiene education. In November 2020, the partners reached the one-million milestone.
We spoke with Austin Alexander, Vice President, Sustainability and Social Impact at Xylem, to learn more about Planet Water’s projects and what the partnership has achieved.
How do Planet Water and Xylem help provide clean water to communities?
Planet Water focuses on bringing clean water to schools and communities through the installation of community-based water filtration systems and implementing water, health and hygiene education programs. Xylem is proud to play a part by having our employees and partners volunteer their time to install these systems and educate communities – when safe to do so.
Why is hygiene education an important part of these activities?
Like any new technology or tool, without the education behind why it is important and how to use it, it completely loses effectiveness. Educating students from a young age on the importance of hygiene and clean water has long-term ripple effects on that child’s life, but also on that of their family and community as they continue to educate others around them.
What have been some of the results of Xylem’s partnership with Planet Water?
The results have been far reaching, with collaborations in schools, communities, and areas impacted by disasters, across 14 countries. In the more recent years of our partnership, I’m proud of the work we’ve done to deliver clean water following major disasters.
I’d highlight our joint efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, the Philippines following the Taal Volcano eruption, and Honduras following Hurricanes Eta and Iota in late 2020 – just to name a few. These projects would not have been possible if it weren’t for quick action and close collaboration between Planet Water’s team, Xylem employees and business partners on the ground, and strategic partners like DHL.
I’m also proud to say we’ve had over 1,600 employees volunteer on projects with Planet Water – but the partnership has gone beyond just Planet Water and Xylem. We have been able to bring customers along to install water towers, and we’ve partnered with Manchester City Football Club on projects in Bangalore and Ghana.
How does it feel to reach the one-million milestone?
This accomplishment is so important to Xylem, particularly as we approach our 10-year anniversary as a company. Reaching the milestone of one million people impacted by Xylem and Planet Water projects puts into perspective the scale of this collaboration. It is a testament that we alone cannot solve the world’s water challenges. Rather, it requires an ecosystem of organizations and people all dedicated to the same goal. We have found a great partner in Planet Water that has helped us reach people, especially children, to provide them access to clean water and hygiene.
In 2017, I actually had the opportunity to participate on a trip to build towers in Cambodia with fellow Xylem Watermark champions across the company. It was hands down one of my best experiences at Xylem and an honor to be one of the many Xylem employees who have worked with Planet Water over our long partnership.
Learn more about Xylem Watermark
Watermark, Xylem’s corporate social responsibility program, provides education and access to safe water to ensure healthy lives, gender equality, and resilient communities.
Watermark volunteers return to Thailand
After a Thai soccer team was trapped in a flooded cave in 2018, Xylem experts helped remove water from the cave faster. The experts later returned to Thailand to help set up water towers with Planet Water.