Philanthropic program to provide water and sanitation to 300 schools in Asia and Latin America
ITT Corporation recently announced a new corporate philanthropy program, ITT Watermark, which includes an initial three-year, $3-million commitment to help provide safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to 300 schools in the developing world—a pledge that will ultimately improve the lives of more than 100,000 children and their families. ITT, a global leader in the transport and treatment of water, will work through its strategic partner, Water For People, a nonprofit international development organization, to improve water and sanitation conditions in schools in Latin America and Asia. ITT’s announcement was made from World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden.
Working with Water For People, ITT will provide support to enable the development of new local infrastructure to bring water and sanitation to remote schools, provide resources to repair existing systems and assist in the creation of innovative hygiene education initiatives. During the balance of 2008, ITT will support 50 schools in Latin America and Asia, including schools in West Bengal, India; Quiche, Guatemala; and Yoro, Honduras. ITT will extend its support to an additional 100 schools in 2009, and another 150 schools in 2010.
“In establishing a corporate philanthropy program, we set out to harness our talented and caring employees, technological capabilities, and financial resources in a way that would make a difference in the lives of the next generation in a sustainable way,” said Steve Loranger, chairman, president and chief executive officer, ITT. “ITT Watermark does precisely that. Through this unique initiative, we are bringing ITT’s full range of assets together to create environments where children can learn and develop without fear of contracting devastating and preventable waterborne diseases.”
ITT and Water For People will deploy a sustainable model that creates local water committees in the communities where the schools are located. The committees will take ownership for the projects and maintain the facilities long after the infrastructure is built. In addition, ITT and Water For People will return to each school one year after implementation to monitor the safe water systems and three years later to evaluate their success.
“With ITT’s involvement, we are empowering local people to build and maintain their school’s own water and sanitation systems by providing skills, materials, labor and lots of motivation,” says Colleen Stiles, chief executive officer, Water For People. “In our experience, this partnership with communities is essential for building solutions that stand the test of time and lead to a successful result. ITT shares our vision and has all the right tools— the water expertise, the products and most of all, the desire—to make a real and lasting difference.”
Through ITT Watermark, ITT has also established an Emergency Response Committee responsible for the proactive and coordinated deployment of ITT resources directly to disaster sites during water-related emergencies. This component of the ITT Watermark program builds on ITT’s legacy of supporting communities in need with its products and expertise to remove unwelcome flood water and provide access to safe drinking water.
ITT has learned much about the needs of natural disaster victims since its experience in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The company’s experience led to the deployment of mobile water treatment units capable of producing safe drinking water from surface water sources in emergent conditions where there is an absence of electricity. These units had been developed for military purposes, and are ideally suited for civilian emergency situations. Most recently, ITT donated several of these units and deployed technical resources to southwest China and Myanmar to support the recovery efforts following the natural disasters devastating those regions.
To further educate its stakeholders on ITT Watermark and the issues it was designed to address, ITT has organized a several-part discussion series featuring the company’s executives, nonprofit partners and other industry experts.
The first event in the series will examine why schools are the focal point for safe water distribution in underserved communities and be held this evening in conjunction with the Stockholm Water Symposium. The panel will include Gretchen McClain, president of ITT Fluid Technology, Ned Breslin, director of international programs at Water For People and John Elkington, co-founder of SustainAbility, an independent think tank specializing in corporate responsibility and sustainable development. The panel will be moderated by Keith Schneider, special correspondent to The New York Times and co-founder of Circle of Blue, a media project of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit water policy think tank. A summary of this discussion will be broadcast and made available for download at www.ittwatermark.com  beginning August 19.