This time last year, just before the global COVID-19 outbreak spiked, I had the opportunity to travel with a team of Kohler associates to witness the unveiling of our water impact projects in several villages outside of our operations in Jhagadia and Aurangabad, India.
As we were surveying the site where we just completed the installation of a water purification and dispensing system, a young woman named DattaMaya began to make her way to the well to collect her family’s supply of clean water. Her physical strength alone was simply remarkable as I watched her place the heavy container of water onto her head and make her way back down the path towards me. As she came closer, I noticed something unexpected – she was completely blind.
My outlook changed that day. I saw a level of strength, resilience and courage in DattaMaya that I’ve never witnessed before. As I watched her, I thought to myself, if she can overcome challenges to ensure her family has safe water, then I need to do even more to make Safe Water for All a reality for people around the world.
For women like DattaMaya and vulnerable communities like hers facing an unprecedented and ongoing global pandemic, the need for safe drinking water and sanitation is more critical than ever. Simple methods like handwashing and personal hygiene help us stop the spread of contagion within our communities, but without equitable access to safe water and proper sanitation, the lack of these life-preserving resources only exacerbate an already dire human condition – making it incredibly difficult to care for loved ones, go to work, attend school and stay healthy. It’s why the United Nations has proclaimed water and sanitation a basic human right.
Water and sanitation inequities are not just a “developing country” issue ̶ they exist all over the world. Addressing this crisis requires action, which is why Kohler is applying its core business strengths – water and sanitation – to find solutions and ensure Safe Water for All.
To bring positive, lasting change, businesses must focus on challenges they can address most effectively. At Kohler Co., we partner with organizations like Water Mission and World Vision, along with local communities and our own associates to bring help and hope to underserved groups. In addition to five Water Impact Projects launched in India and China in 2020, we’ve recently announced a new partnership with DigDEEP here in the U.S. to provide safe water and sanitation to the Navajo Nation where 1 in 3 still don’t have a sink or toilet.
Bottom line. I believe it is our responsibility to use our talent, capability, resources and products to make our world better. That must be the “new normal” for today’s leading corporations. Doing so strengthens our communities and gives all people equitable access to basic human needs that provide them with the time and improved health they need to pursue an education, take advantage of opportunities and experience a better living condition. And that’s good for all of us.
Women like DattaMaya need us. We must continue to learn, grow, iterate and explore new solutions and possibilities. I encourage other purpose-driven businesses, leaders, and organizations to come together to address the challenges that are impacting the livelihoods of so many.
I invite you to join us in making Safe Water for All a reality.
To learn more about Kohler and our Safe Water for All initiative, please visit www.safewaterforall.com.