31 August 2017

In the slums of Kolkata, north-east India, women used to walk for up to four hours each day to collect water. Often the water was unsafe to drink, increasing the risk of disease.

Today, a project supported by the HSBC Water Programme is pioneering a solution: a solar treatment plant that uses renewable energy to make water from a local pond clean and drinkable.

The Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Urban Slums (WASH-US) system enables people to draw clean water using a personalised card that measures how much they use. Women from the local community decide how the water will be allocated, helping ensure that everyone gets a fair share.

Users of the WASH-US system in Kolkata, India, show their cards before collecting clean water

The system, set up with the help of HSBC volunteers, now provides safe drinking water and dignified sanitation facilities to nearly 5,000 women and their families. It has been recognised as an example of good practice in the UN’s ‘Water for Life’ Awards.

The project is among the achievements that HSBC and its Water Programme partners highlighted at World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden on 27 August – 1 September 2017. The event saw policymakers and non-governmental organisations from around the world discuss the sustainable use of water.

HSBC believes that water is vital to building healthy communities and developing national economies. The bank has committed USD150 million to the HSBC Water Programme, an eight-year partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid, WWF and more than 50 other non-governmental organisations.

Since 2012, the programme has supported the lives and livelihoods of people around the world through water provision, protection, education and scientific research (see box).

Sue Alexander, Senior Manager, Environmental Programmes, HSBC, said: “Across the world, many communities are increasingly feeling the effects of water scarcity, whether through the impacts of climate change or urbanisation. The HSBC Water Programme is working with partners to use innovation to create long-term, sustainable and scalable solutions to tackle these challenges.”