The new partnership will provide these basic needs to communities and schools in all 30 villages across two tea estates in the Darjeeling District of West Bengal, India, over the next two years.
Funded by the £220,000 donation from Twinings, WaterAid will ensure all 30 villages have a well-maintained piped water supply system that protects the springs from contamination and provides clean, easily accessible water. They will also help build decent toilets and waste management systems, and run hygiene education in the villages and schools.
The partnership will particularly focus on the challenges faced by women, including menstrual hygiene management and promoting female empowerment. Without decent toilets, good menstrual hygiene knowledge or access to sanitary materials, women are at risk of infection and often miss out on money earning opportunities across the tea estates because many have to return home to change during their period.
WaterAid Chief Executive Tim Wainwright said:
“Access to water and sanitation is one of the most pressing challenges for tea workers and their families in Darjeeling, and we’re delighted to address this through our partnership with Twinings.
Improving access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene education will enable a better quality of life for the workers and their communities, with a reduced risk of waterborne disease and improved working conditions that allow women to manage their periods effectively.
We aim to establish effective and sustainable systems to ensure this partnership will have long-lasting effects for thousands of people. In addition to this, we will be working with Twinings to measure the economic benefits of improved access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to encourage other companies and their supply chains that this is a worthy investment that not only improves people’s lives but that of the bottom line too.”
Twinings CEO Bob Taverner said:
When we fill the kettle to make a cup of tea, we take for granted the seemingly endless supply of safe, clean water that flows. But this is a privilege not available to millions of people in many parts of the world.
At Twinings, we are always working to understand the needs of people who live and work in tea-growing communities, and to find ways to improve conditions and livelihoods.
We are very pleased to be partnering with WaterAid, who have great expertise and experience in developing water and sanitation projects, for this initiative in Darjeeling, India.
Despite Darjeeling’s natural beauty, high rainfall and springs, fresh water is in short supply because the springs are not protected and are vulnerable to contamination. Diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases are common, often forcing people to miss school or work.
WaterAid has worked in similar communities in Bangladesh helping to transform the lives of tea workers. Women, such as 45-year old Bina Patrou, have benefitted hugely from access to clean water and private, decent toilets.
We used to have to walk more than half-an-hour each way to collect water from a well, in the rain and heat. Water for everything else came from the streams. People had to go to the toilet in the bushes and some went near the same streams. I used to miss days at work because of illness and so I wasn’t paid. My daughters suffered from diarrhoea and dysentery and I had to look after them when they were growing up. These pumps and latrines have made such a difference for us.