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Sanitation a ‘win-win’ for businesses and workers

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WaterAid Cambodia holds a sanitation workshop for factory workers in Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces in August. WATERAID CAMBODIA

Sanitation a ‘win-win’ for businesses and workers

WaterAid is working to promote clean water and sanitation in several garment factories and their workers’ communities.

Its latest research, carried out in four countries, found that investment in these services benefits manufacturing and agricultural businesses.

On October 3, the international NGO unveiled its latest research report – Business Promotion: Why Invest in Clean Water and Sanitation?

It found that clean water, toilets and hand washing facilities increase productivity and often drive a return on investment.

The research was conducted in 10 workplaces and communities in four countries in four sectors: garment factories in Bangladesh, leather processing plants in India, tea mills in Kenya and India, and smallholder farmers in Tanzania.

WaterAid behaviour change coordinator Teu Sreyneang told The Post on October 5 that the organisation has been working with nine factories in Cambodia since 2020 to promote clean water supplies, in the factories themselves and in the communities where the workers live.

She said that based on the work that WaterAid has carried out with the nine factories so far, the results appear to be as good as what the research suggested they would be.

Research of this type has not been carried out before in Cambodia.

“The idea is that factories will want to provide clean water to their employees as it will benefit their companies. WaterAid is working to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to clean water and toilets,” she said.

She noted that the nine factories are in three provinces: Kandal, Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang.

Access to clean water and toilets at home, in the community and at work is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of all people, she said.

According to WaterAid’s findings, by investing in clean water and sanitation, businesses increase socio-economic wellbeing for their employees and their families, while increasing productivity, reducing illness and absence, and reducing medical expenses.

“By investing in water and sanitation services, businesses also strengthen their brand value, create resilience for their employees, reduce risks in their operations and combat climate change,” said the report.

WaterAid country director Chat Sophiep said that water and sanitation work should not just be done in one location. Systematic work should address all areas and involve all parties.

“This is why, in the garment industry, WaterAid not only promotes clean water and sanitation in factories, we also promote the service in the communities where workers live, under the auspices of the VF Corporation and the VF Foundation.

“Through these projects, we have personally seen the benefits that our research suggested would come from improved access to clean water and sanitation in the workplace and at home.

“It provides many benefits to both employees and companies, so we encourage factory owners and small and large enterprises to prioritise investment in these areas for the mutual benefit of business and society,” he said.

Since its inception in 1981, WaterAid has provided 28.8 million people with access to clean water, 28.1 million with decent toilets and 26 million with hygiene education.

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