Solving Water for disaster-impacted communities
Read about Xylem's previous disaster response efforts with partners below.
A wave of recent severe weather events and natural disasters has devastated communities across the globe, causing major loss of life, and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without basic needs like shelter and clean water. These tragedies are on the rise due to climate change, their impact intensified by pressures like population growth and coastal development.
Disaster Relief Efforts in 2021
In July 2021, a series of floods devastated the Indian state of Maharashtra as the region experienced the highest rainfall on record in more than 40 years. Dozens of people lost their lives and thousands more were forced to evacuate as flash floods and landslides destroyed homes and livelihoods.
Raigad was one of the worst affected areas with more than 100 villages impacted and water levels rising to almost 25 feet in some places – the highest levels recorded in recent memory. Damaged electricity and water supply infrastructure left displaced communities in dire need of clean and safe water.
To support the most vulnerable communities, Xylem Watermark and Planet Water Foundation provided emergency relief and installed an AquaBlock system in the villages of Birwadi, Mahad, Raigad. This emergency water kiosk supported the daily drinking water requirements of up to 10,000 individuals, providing clean water and sanitation to those in need.
In July 2021, record-breaking floods in Henan Province, China, impacted more than 9.3 million people. Increases in extreme weather events caused by climate change led to a series of flash floods across four days, and nineteen weather stations in the province had to update their daily rainfall records as a result.
More than 815,000 people were evacuated as a result of the floods, and damage to critical water infrastructure left many communities without access to safe or clean drinking water. To support relief efforts, Xylem’s Shenyang team worked tirelessly to support those in need, setting up a 24-hour contact centre to support affected customers and communities.
To support response efforts, almost forty Godwin and Flygt dewatering pumps were donated to affected cities across the province. Additional pumps were also deployed to the Zhengzhou Pure Water Company to help discharge floodwater from their water and wastewater plants so that they could continue to serve local communities.
In Summer 2021 heavy rainfall in western Germany led to the worst flooding in decades. The states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia were severely impacted, with up to 200 liters of rain falling per square meter. The volume of rainfall turned small creeks and rivers into fast-flowing rivers that occupied narrow valleys in the Eifel region, and the water level of the River Ahr – a tributary of the River Rhine – more than doubled from 3.2 meters to a height of over 7 meters.
Almost a quarter of the population living on the banks of the River Ahr were impacted, with more than 3,000 buildings destroyed. To support relief efforts, Xylem deployed dewatering pumps and equipment to Marienthal, a small municipality on the banks of the river. The pumps were used to remove water out of the Ahr that had become contaminated due to excess rainfall.
In addition to supporting relief efforts with dewatering equipment and expertise, Xylem employees fundraised with Aktion Deutschland Hilft e.V. - Germany's Relief Coalition, with Xylem matching all funds raised. Donations were used to support the evacuation of affected families, organize accommodation for those across western Germany who had become displaced by the floods and to distribute food and hygiene kits to people in emergency shelters. Xylem employees also volunteered to support clean-up efforts in their own communities.
Disaster Relief Efforts in 2020
Since the set-in of plum rains this year, Lujiang County in Anhui Province has been hit by the heaviest rainfall in 100 years, with the precipitation reaching 1,318 millimeters, a historical extremum, 365% more than the average annual plum rains.
Torrential rains have swollen the river, and flooded roads and villages, leaving Lujiang County with one of the worst floods in its history.
With the arrival of the most critical moment of flood relief, Xylem immediately responded to the flood situation.
The company contacted China Women’s Development Foundation after learning of the emergency of flood situation in many provinces and cities across the country, and expressed the will to contact the affected areas and provide emergency relief. At the same time, Xylem immediately looked for equipment suitable for the affected areas. Upon learning that Lujiang County was in urgent need of emergency drainage facilities, Xylem Shenyang factory arranged the delivery and distribution of the facilities in no time, and sent the donated drainage pumps to Nanxu neighborhood, Guohe town, Hefei, Lujiang County. The local rescue team stationed at the flooded area will help to drain water for Nanxu neighborhood by using Xylem pumps.
The flood threw us the ultimate challenge of the race against time. We had to help the affected villagers drain the water from their villages and homes as quickly as possible, so as to minimize their property losses and help them return to normal life and farming at an early date.
This year's heavy plum rains have caused huge losses of life and property in many provinces and cities across China. Such being the cases, dealing with sudden disaster has become the primary task of urban drainage work.
Urban planning needs to adopt a forward-looking and innovative construction concept, and to transform the urban pipe network based on the overall layout. We should upgrade and expand the capacity of existing pumping stations, and also need to develop emergency drainage solutions for emergencies.
The deployment of a certain number of mobile pumping stations for urban emergency drainage is a very effective emergency solution employed worldwide, which enables "rapid and unobstructed drainage and removal of human-induced water-logging."
Xylem has a lot of time-honored brands of submersible sewage pump, enjoying widespread renown in the industry. From fixed pumping station upgrades to temporary mobile drainage applications, our wide-range solutions can meet all your emergency drainage needs.
In Honduras, Hurricane ETA was devastating. It left many families homeless and without safe water for over a month.
Xylem Watermark, together with Diseine (our distributor in Honduras), Planet Water and DHL, made it possible to carry, install and run two Aquablocks.
These Aquablocks were installed in San Pedro Sula, where it gave water to 250 families, and in El Progreso, supplying 300 families with clean water.
Diseine has been a fundamental collaborator in our disaster response efforts and we would not have been able to provide these critical resources without their support.
Torrential rain on January 1, 2020 caused flash floods, floods, and landslides in three provinces of Indonesia (Banten, DKI Jakarta, and West Java). The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) measured nearly 15 inches of rainfall in one day—more than three times average.
With support from Xylem Watermark’s Emergency Response Fund, Mercy Corps Indonesia was able to address ongoing and urgent longer-term clean water needs in Banten Province, specifically Lebak District, because it was identified as an underserved area that had received limited attention or resources. The government’s data confirmed there were 2,167 houses inundated by the floods, 306 houses heavily damaged, and 274 houses with minor damage.
Through water point construction and water trucking, Mercy Corps reached more than 1,411 households (4,322 people) and 2,554 students living at a local boarding school damaged by the flood with improved access to clean water.
From late 2019 into early 2020, Australia experienced some of the country’s most severe bushfires to date. The fire situation worsened significantly through December and January as fires merged into mega fires, bringing the greatest challenges for containment, and causing meteorological changes. At least 34 people died in the bushfires since October, most in January, and it is estimated more than a billion native animals were killed. The devastation added to existing pressures on Australia’s unique ecosystems, as well as the country’s economy.
The Xylem Oceania team stepped up in the face of this devastation and organized a fundraising campaign via payroll deduction with Xylem matching. Through their efforts, $20,060 was donated to the Australian Red Cross on Friday, February, 28th. Globally, colleagues also came together to support the response to the wildfires, contributing to a matched fundraiser which raised an additional $3,365 for the Australian Red Cross.
On January 12th, 2020, the Taal volcano, located 60KM south of Manila on the island of Luzon, erupted and spewed ash up to 14KM in the air, forcing nearly a million people to evacuate.
Xylem teams in the Philippines, together with their families, have shown their dedication to the Watermark mission by supporting the relief and recovery efforts in affected communities through both volunteerism and giving. Xylem volunteers worked with global non-profit partner Planet Water Foundation to install five AquaTowers and two AquaBlock emergency water filtration systems at schools and community centers that are serving as shelters for displaced families and individuals. Xylem’s donated water filtration systems are now providing clean, safe water more than 5,700 displaced people, and going forward will also support the drinking water needs of thousands of additional students and community members that attend these schools and community centers.
In addition to their work to provide clean water, Xylem volunteers collected supply donations, distributed relief items at the evacuation centers, and worked at a soup kitchen to provide meals at one location. Teams also raised funds among colleagues and stakeholders, both locally and around the world, to support the Philippines Red Cross, which is responding by providing shelter, food, and necessary aid to those who have been displaced.
Disaster Relief Efforts in 2019
Bangladesh is experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. Since August 2017, Bangladesh has seen an unprecedented influx of Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Among the nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees now residing in the overcrowded camps and settlements in Cox’s Bazar district, 55% are children under the age of 18 and 52% of adults are women.
With support from Xylem Watermark, Mercy Corps has been working with their partner, Terre des Hommes Foundation (TdH) to meet the urgent water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs of refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This funding has enabled Mercy Corps to address ongoing and urgent longer-term water and sanitation needs in Cox’s Bazaar going in to the most recent monsoon season, helping more than 20,000 people with improved water and hygiene access. This is the second allocation that Watermark has made from the WASH Emergency Response Fund.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, large numbers of people have been left without safe drinking water. With Xylem’s capabilities in water technology, we are supporting the urgent-response efforts by Mercy Corps, Americares, and the Red Cross, in coordination with NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency), Bahama Water and Sewage Corp, and Grand Bahama Utility. We are deploying technologies to accelerate pumping, along with manpower and expertise in support of their efforts.
The Midwestern United States has been experiencing major floods since mid-march 2019, primarily along the Missouri River and its tributaries, resulting in over $2.9 billion in property damages and in the death of 3 people.
Our local commercial teams, in cooperation with Red Cross, have created a campaign to raise money for communities devastated by the flooding and are providing basic life necessities to those most impacted.
Cyclone Idai struck Zimbabwe from 14th - 16th March 2019. The flooding destroyed homes and caused widespread devastation. More than 800,000 people were displaced due to extreme flooding in the city of Beira and Chimanimani.
In the wake of this disaster, our South Africa team has been deploying dewatering equipment & clean water (Aqua Pods) to assist the government with rescues and cleanup. In addition, the Xylem team has been collecting donations and in-kind equipment to assist those in need of immediate aid.
In February of 2019, heavy rains resulted in the collapse of a dam wall leading to the flooding of underground mining tunnels, trapping over 70 gold miners.
The Xylem South Africa team immediately responded to this disaster by providing humanitarian support to the trapped miners and dewatering equipment to dewater the tunnels. Technical experts were also sent to the mines to provide any assistance with the rescue operation.
Montreal, Canada faced one of the worst floods in years as a dike was breached in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Quebac, a suburb west of Montreal, sending over 5000 residents fleeing to higher grounds. Fortunately, no one has been seriously injured in the flooding, but the disaster has left thousands displaced from their homes.
Xylem employees and field technicians have been volunteering by filling sand bags and using dewatering equipment to dewater areas devastated by flood water. In addition, Xylem has partnered with Red Cross to provide donations for immediate needs to those in need from disaster and displacement.
Disaster Relief Efforts in 2018
Monsoon rains trapped a youth football team in a chamber for 18 days, deep within a flooded cave system in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand in July. Amid fears of rising water, dewatering the caves was critical to getting the team out alive.
Our experts assisted the extraordinary efforts of the local authorities and first responders by reconfiguring the water pumps on-site to increase the dewatering flow rate by 40 percent. This helped lower water levels and ultimately supported the Thai Navy SEALs and international cave diving experts in reaching the 12 boys and their coach.
Extreme rainfall caused a hydroelectric dam to collapse in the Attapeu Province of Laos, sending flash floods through downstream villages and displacing thousands of residents. In the aftermath, Xylem volunteers supported the efforts of the Lao Red Cross, by working with our NGO partner, Planet Water, to supply critical, clean, water to the local community, including local schools and a health center.
The team built a series of water towers to filter, treat and store water for drinking. In addition, Xylem colleagues in Malaysia raised funds for humanitarian aid and donated additional clothing, food and cooking utensils for Laos dam collapse victims.
A series of earthquakes struck the Indonesian island of Lombok, Indonesia this summer, killing and injuring hundreds and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless and without access to clean water.
To supply clean drinking water to those displaced, Xylem employees, together with Planet Water, quickly deployed water filtration tower projects and an AquaPod clean water system for use by the thousands of people living in relocation camps.
Severe monsoon rainfall resulted in the southern Indian state of Kerala experiencing its worst flood in 100 years in August, killing hundreds and displacing almost a million people.
Our dewatering experts joined the teams on the ground and flew in high volume water pumps from Dubai. These powerful dewatering pumps operate independently of the power grid to help remove floodwater. They were installed on barges to dewater low-lying areas, aiding in recovery of flooded schools and fields.
Local fundraising efforts provided water sanitation kits, food and other assistance to victims of the flooding.
In September, Typhoon Mangkhut – the most powerful storm of the year – hit northern Luzon, the biggest island in the Philippines, causing catastrophic flooding and landslides.
Xylem coordinated with the Red Cross and government authorities to offer support, including with our equipment and technical expertise. Xylem colleagues also organized a local drive to collect relief goods and cash donations.
In North and South Carolina, U.S., Hurricane Florence caused historic rainfall and catastrophic flooding this fall, wiping out power for nearly 800,000 people in the area. In advance of the storm, the local commercial Xylem team deployed a series of dewatering pumps and equipment across North America to our customers to withstand the weather, protect critical infrastructure and enable a quicker recovery from the storm.
As part of our humanitarian work, we were proud to support the emergency response efforts through our Watermark partnerships with Mercy Corps and Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is a non-profit that unites the skills of military veterans and first responders.
Following the hurricane, they spearheaded a campaign to send relief items, including lanterns and solar chargers, food and water, to those in greatest need of aid. A Xylem employee donation drive and a partnership with iHeart Radio in Atlanta to champion their call for bottled water donations were also central to our response.
We are humbled that we can leverage our expertise and offerings to help communities, when and where possible, meet severe water challenges – like lack of drinkable water and flooding – that can arise after disaster strikes.
Our team of 17,000 colleagues is frequently involved in helping support recovery and relief efforts around the world, supporting local teams by deploying experts to disaster sites to provide water-related expertise, technology and equipment.Through our global corporate social responsibility program, Watermark, we help provide boots on the grounds in the places that need them most, or raise funds or volunteer time to send critical food, clothing and sanitary supplies.
While the world’s water challenges are growing exponentially, so too are the opportunities to address and overcome them. That’s why we are focused every day on finding a smarter way forward to solve water and help communities in need.
Working with our partners, we will continue to look for ways to leverage our people and solutions to help those impacted by water-related catastrophes.