Improving Access to Water in India: Gap Inc., Cargill and GSK Join Water Resilience Coalition and WaterAid Coalition’s 2030 100-Basin Plan

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New Delhi: The Water Resilience Coalition (WRC), an industry-driven, CEO-led initiative convening global companies to address the global water crisis, today announced the launch of the Women + Water Collaborative, a flagship corporate collective action programme to improve access to clean water and sanitation in India.

Gap Inc., Cargill, and GSK, in partnership with WaterAid and the Water Resilience Coalition, are launching the initiative to improve health, and climate resilience in water-stressed communities in India, beginning with the Krishna-Godavari Basin. The WRC is an initiative of the CEO Water Mandate, a partnership between the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute.

This marks the first time that companies from different sectors spanning apparel, biopharma, and agriculture have united with shared goals, metrics, and governance to provide access to clean water and sanitation in the same communities. The Collaborative builds on the success of the previous USAID Gap Inc. Women + Water Alliance, which empowered over 2.4 million people to improve their access to water and sanitation in India between 2017 and 2023. This is one of 21 collective action projects in 15 basins underway across Asia, Africa, South America, and North America as part of the Water Resilience Coalition’s 2030 ambition to build water resilience across 100 Priority Basins.

The Women + Water Collaborative will improve the availability and quality of water in priority river basins through water replenishment and conservation using methods such as rainwater harvesting. It will seek to build on ongoing efforts of the Government of India such as the Jal Jeevan Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission to provide communities with safe drinking water and climate-resilient sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and services. Although women in rural India play a crucial role in water collection and use, their leadership in decision-making around water resources remains low. This programme will leverage women’s leadership to build water resilience, improve water security, and enable equitable access to water and sanitation for communities at scale.

“Collaboration that transcends boundaries and industries can help us take a larger step towards achieving the desired sustainable goals. Drawing inspiration from the remarkable success of the Women + Water Alliance, supported by USAID and Gap Inc., we now aspire to achieve even greater transformation. Diverse industries have come together with a common purpose of reaching water-stressed communities in India to improve access to safe water. The Collaborative aims to establish robust, secure WASH infrastructure, going beyond water replenishment and conservation.

“The idea is to achieve equitable access along with ensuring empowerment. Women need to be at the forefront of decision-making, ensuring active community participation that will redefine water management. Through these collaborative efforts and the powerful synergies, with our partners, we are committed to ensuring assured access to safe drinking water and safely managed sanitation,” said VK Madhavan, Chief Executive, WaterAid India.

“As part of the Forward Faster Water Resilience Target and as members of the Water Resilience Coalition, the companies involved in this initiative have joined an alliance that thrives on collaboration and collective action. This cooperation will play a key role in achieving the WRC’s ambitious goals outlined in its 2030 strategy,” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact and Co-Chair of the Water Resilience Coalition.

“The Women + Water Collaborative builds on Gap Inc.’s history of designing innovative programs with nonprofits and the public sector, and then convening corporate partners to drive sustainability at scale,” said Dan Fibiger, Head of Global Sustainability for Gap Inc. “By joining across food, fashion and biopharma, we can drive meaningful impact in communities that fuel our global supply chains.”

“Water is essential for human health, as well as for the ongoing production of our medicines and vaccines,” said Claire Lund, VP Sustainability at GSK. “Yet climate change and nature loss are impacting water and health in locally specific ways – with some countries being more vulnerable. That’s why we are focused on water as part of our commitment to contributing to a nature-positive world. We are proud to be a founding partner of the Women + Water Collaborative to improve water quality, quantity, and access in India, in turn helping to support local community health.”

This flagship collective action programme demonstrates tangible progress toward the Water Resilience Coalition’s ambition to contribute to water security for 3 billion people and enable equitable access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for more than 300 million people by 2030.

“We know that reliable access to clean water and sanitation is essential for people and agriculture. At Cargill, we are focused on improving access to safe drinking water and sanitation, to reach 500,000 people in priority communities by 2030,” said Michelle Grogg, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Cargill. “Partnership and collective action are a critical pathway to help us deliver on this ambition and we’re pleased to be a participating company in the Women + Water Collaborative.”

WaterAid India will launch the programme in five Indian States and six priority districts. This collaborative effort is keen to bring on additional corporate partners to expand its reach.

“Our impact is limited only by the number of corporate partners we can bring on,” said Kelly Parsons, CEO of WaterAid America. “We know that solving the water crisis is a business imperative. We also know that none of the sustainable development goals will be achieved without global collaboration and partnership. By coordinating large, multi-stakeholder partnerships, we create a holistic impact, at scale. That’s the power of collective action.”