Bringing life-saving technology to a global challenge

Halma’s new partnership with WaterAid

Constance Baroudel, Halma’s Divisional Chief Executive, tells us how their funding, employee engagement campaigns and specialised testing kits will help to bring us closer to a world where everyone, everywhere has access to these essentials.

WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan

Wash your hands. It is a public health message that has never been clearer than this year. But what if water, or lack of it, was something that could make you sick too? This is the reality for 785 million people worldwide and something that we at Halma – a collection of life-saving technology companies – are launching a campaign to address.   

1 in 10 people globally don’t have clean water close to home and 3 billion lack basic handwashing facilities. It might seem unfathomable on a planet that is 70% covered in water, but only 3% is fresh water and 70% of that is ice and snow. Conserving and ensuring what we have is often as important as securing clean new sources.  

This is a big challenge, possibly one of the biggest the world faces today, but we can all do our bit. At Halma, we have a number of companies that specialise in helping monitor and improve water quality. We therefore decided it would make sense to team up with the experts at WaterAid to see if we can make a difference to a local challenge with global repercussions.  

Water for Life 

We are starting with ten villages in India, home to roughly 8,000 people, where together we will help to secure better access to reliably clean water. Currently in Bhagalpur and Buxar, the two areas in northeast India where we are focusing, only 15% and 3% of the population respectively have access to piped water supply in the community, and just 1% of people in both districts have piped water in their homes. In Buxar, 97% of those have access to water that is drawn through arsenic-affected shallow pumps.  

Shailendra Kumar, 48, conducts a test to check the quality of water in a District Water Lab, Gaya district,  Bihar, India, June, 2018.
Shailendra Kumar, 48, conducts a test to check the quality of water in a District Water Lab, Gaya district, Bihar, India, June, 2018.
WaterAid/ Prashanth Vishwanathan

To help WaterAid make sure the water these villages are using is free of dangerous contaminants, we have contributed a number of specialised testing kits from Palintest, our UK-based technology champion headquartered in Newcastle.

We have also committed £200,000 to support this programme over two years. We plan to engage all our 45 companies around the world in further fundraising, as well as water conservation initiatives and awareness campaigns aimed at ensuring that as wide a community as possible can eventually get better water access.  

Launched to coincide with Global Handwashing Day on 15 October, the Water for Life campaign’s first step is to gauge the nature of the challenge – assessing water quality and water accessibility in these two villages. By January we will have a map of what effort is required in terms of infrastructure, water quality, educational need and accessibility. Based on that information, we will create a plan to put in water harvesting facilities, handwashing stations, pumps - whatever is required to fix the problem on a sustainable basis.  

The increasing role of technology to support sustainability is something that Halma believes in, and sees increasing demand for, in the long term. If we are to live up to our goal of making the world a safer, cleaner, healthier place there seems no better time to bring our life-saving technology to a global challenge.