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Investing in safe water for African communities makes business sense for Jaguar Land Rover

by Nigel Clarke, Operations Director of Jaguar Land Rover Sub-Saharan Africa
09 Mar 2016 at 09:56hrs | Views
Nigel Clarke helps provide a child with safe drinking water at school for the first time as part of Jaguar Land Rover's global CSR programme (Photo Credit Kate Holt).
Jaguar Land Rover is growing and we take our role as a responsible corporate citizen seriously. For over 60 years we have invested in communities around the world supporting social, educational and environmental projects.

By working with experts we can ensure we deliver support which is appropriate, effective and leaves a lasting legacy. For example, since 1953 we have worked with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, loaning and donating 120 vehicles and providing direct help to more than 800,000 people. Since 2009, we've worked with climate and sustainable development company ClimateCare, to deliver an integrated Climate+Care programme that cuts carbon and improves lives around the world.

In 2013 Jaguar Land Rover launched its Global CSR Programme that will create new opportunities for 12 million people around the world by 2020. This integrated approach, pulling together our UK and global activities, supports our global growth plans, and helps focus our staff and national sales companies around the world on a common goal.

"We want to help build stronger communities around the world, delivering positive impacts for society by tackling issues pertinent to both our industry and the communities in which we operate" explains Mike Wright, Executive Director, Jaguar Land Rover.

"Water is one such issue. With rising demand and the impacts of climate change putting increasing pressure on water resources, reducing water consumption across our own operations is critical to future-proof our business, as is supporting access to safe water in the communities in which we operate".

The economies of African countries have grown rapidly and it is becoming an increasingly important region for Jaguar Land Rover. Of our 45 global projects, 11 are in Africa, where we use our resources to help address social issues and support further economic development. Since 2013, our support for life-changing projects has delivered new opportunities for 2.9 million people in Africa, and by April 2016, this will rise to four million.

The organisation has a strong business case for investment in Africa. We select activities which reflect our core values and which really matter to staff and stakeholders, inspiring and motivating them. And, by addressing key social issues it helps people achieve their potential, supports economic growth something that will ultimately both improve the availability of future talent for job opportunities and create new demand for its vehicles.

One example of this type of win-win activity is a new project we launched with ClimateCare and Vestergaard in Bungoma, Western Kenya, which uses smart technology to provide safe water to more than 300,000 school children.

The LifeStraw Water for Schools project, provides award winning LifeStraw water purifying technology to 375 schools and incorporates a programme to educate a whole generation of children about the importance of safe water and hygiene. The programme will reduce children's risk of contracting waterborne diseases like typhoid and cholera, improving opportunities for them to study and achieve their dreams will leaving a lasting legacy for the individuals involved and helping build stronger, healthier communities. Seven Jaguar Land Rover employees from across the business were directly involved in launching the project. They tested the off road capabilities of the Land Rover Defender and Discovery vehicles they help build, in order to take filters to 19 schools in hard to reach rural communities.

Involving employees in the hands on delivery of this safe water project has helped Jaguar Land Rover engage its workforce, increase understanding of the importance of and impact of its Global CSR Programme, and has created ambassadors within the business, driving change and encouraging colleagues to adopt a sustainability mind set. I joined our employees at the launch and really enjoyed talking to the pupils at the schools and seeing our volunteers in action, distributing the safe water technology and training teachers and children in its use. This brought home the real impact this programme will have, creating opportunities for 300,000 school-children across Bungoma.

"Programmes like this that deliver real business and community value are the future for unlocking private sector finance for sustainable development work" explains Tom Morton, Director of ClimateCare Nairobi.
ClimateCare, Vestergaard and Jaguar Land Rover hope that sharing their experiences will encourage other businesses to invest in Africa and deliver shared value for their organisations, their employees and the communities in which they operate.

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The Employee: Pirosha Iyer, Supply Planning, South Africa & Sub-Sahara Africa, Jaguar Land Rover

Pirosha Iyer, was one of the lucky Jaguar Land Rover employees who joined the experience.

"I interacted with so many children, and to hear their stories was amazing. There are so many of them who have suffered from cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea and many other illnesses from drinking unsafe water. To see their faces light up when they heard that they were to receive a solution to the unsafe water problem is an experience I cannot properly express, and is something I will never forget."

Pirosha's responsibilities on the trip included visiting schools and teaching pupils about basic hygiene and how to use the LifeStraw product in order to obtain safe water.

"To have had the opportunity to teach those children why it is so important to wash fruit and vegetables before eating them, and why you must wash your hands after visiting the bathroom was just amazing. You don't make a difference to just one person, you make a difference to the help to improve things for an entire community."

The project launch team are now back at their day jobs, but it's no longer business as usual. They are now a team of pro-active Environmental Innovation advocates that are already driving change across the business, identifying ways to improve water consumption, do business differently and create positive impacts around the world.

The Teacher


Samirah Karim is a teacher of Maths, Science and English at the Cheptais Elite Academy in Bungoma.

"I became a teacher because I love children and helping them learn and develop. I'm actually from this area but my family moved away when we were young, it's so nice to be able to come back and work in my homeland." Says Samirah.
The school water is usually collected from a borehole, but this is broken at the moment, so they use the local stream. The water is not safe to drink, particularly when it rains a lot and is contaminated from the latrines and the children suffer with stomach upsets and typhoid.

"We had a bad outbreak earlier this year which affected around 50 children. As sanitation teacher, I tell the children about cleanliness, the importance of washing hands and personal hygiene."

"The LifeStraw filters will change our students' lives. They won't miss school due to illness which gives them the best chance to do well in exams and continue their studies at college."

"The safe water will keep them healthy and they will go home and educate their families about the importance of safe water and how it will reduce sickness."

The Children

Photo credit: Kate Holt

Calbe is a pupil at the Jans Edward Academy in Bungoma. As a boarder he lives and studies at school and relies on the staff to provide him with water that is safe to drink. Until recently that simply wasn't possible – with the only water being available from the borehole that supplies the school. As a result, Calbe has been hospitalised with Typhoid, where he learnt the importance of filtering and drinking safe water.

This project to bring safe water to schools in Bungoma has inspired him not only to make sure his own drinking water is safe, but to spread the word and this technology to others around the world.

"When I finish school, I want to help people in our society. I want to be a pilot because I will take these LifeStraw [filters] from one country to another to help those people affected by disease".

Source - Nigel Clarke, Operations Director of Jaguar Land Rover Sub-Saharan Africa