Twenty-five years ago, a severe drought in Peru inspired Atlas Copco as a corporation to help the plight of the thirsty. Rather than just donate money to a cause, Atlas Copco enlisted contributions from its employees and formed Water for All. The company organization is funded through employee contributions, which Atlas Copco matches. The motto of Water for All is, “Clean drinking water is a basic human right.”
Atlas Copco, among other things, is a manufacturer of water well drilling equipment and related accessories, so its employees see and learn about water issues more than most people. Part of Water for All’s mission is to “help people to help themselves.” Water for All prefers to use simple techniques when working on water projects, teaching local people how to work hand pumps and how to protect the natural springs for future water quality. Water for All wants the end users to take part in and have ownership of the project. This helps ensure long-term success.
Atlas Copco North America has just started its fundraising efforts and expects to contribute to a specific project late this year. Chris Heap, vice president of Human Resources at Atlas Copco Drilling Solutions, said, “We look forward to being in a position to fund a project. We can look at it and say, ’That one’s ours.’”
Heap serves as the chairman of the Water for All Committee in the United States. Heap said he’s been impressed with the generosity of Atlas Copco employees, especially during a time when many charitable donations are down. Along with Atlas Copco North America, Atlas Copco India and China also are new members of Water for All.
Water for All has supported water well work around the world from Afghanistan to Peru. Installing water pumps in schools and villages and protecting natural springs has created sustainable water supplies for more than one million people.
Mikael Lorin, chairman of Water for All, Sweden, said, “I wish you could have seen the gratitude in the eyes of the people I met when I was on a mission. It says more than both words and pictures; it goes straight into the heart.”
Water for All recently worked in Malawi in southeast Africa. Water for All worked with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency to drill and dig for water in villages surrounding the Malamulo Hospital in the Mulanje district. This provided much needed access to water in an area where an average 1,600 people had to share one water well and walk long distances to get to it. Now, every village in the area will have its own well and water pump, meaning just 250 people have to share a well.
Malawi has a booming and young population; two out of every three residents are younger than 20. Contaminated water contributes to many diseases such as cholera that can lead to an early death. One in five children dies before age five. Cholera and hepatitis are commonly found in drinking water that doesn’t come from good wells.
“We are very happy to see so many of our people take an interest in this important issue, which is not only about health and sanitation, but also about creating significant social benefits. Having clean water in schools means better access for children to education,” said Jo Cronstedt, vice president of Public Affairs at Atlas Copco, Sweden. “The response has been astounding, for instance in China where Water for All now has close to 3,000 members who contribute a monthly amount from their salaries.”
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