The HSBC Water Programme launched in 2012 as a collaborative partnership between WaterAid, WWF and Earthwatch. Originally, a $100 million commitment, the programme's success in tackling water provision, protection, education and scientific research, led to its renewal in 2017.
The impact of the $150 million programme has been far-reaching: the HSBC Water Programme has provided 1.72 million people with clean water, over 2.7 million with sanitation and 3.5 million with hygiene education in six countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria.
The programme has enabled the poorest and most vulnerable people in these six countries live healthier and more dignified lives through access to safe water and sanitation, and improved hygiene.
Sustainable apparel supply chains project
Building on the success of the HSBC Water Programme, HSBC and WaterAid launched the Sustainable Supply Chains project in 2018 to deliver essential water and sanitation services in apparel factories and nearby communities in Bangladesh and India.
With a focus on the sustainability of global supply chains in the apparel sector and the wellbeing of workers through access to WASH services, together, HSBC and WaterAid are working towards a shared ambition of a sustainable future.
In India, the project is currently supporting large-scale tanneries and community-based artisanal workers, while in Bangladesh, work is underway in three ready-made garment factories and surrounding workers’ tenancies.
In addition to improving living and working conditions for employees, WaterAid’s guide Strengthening the business case for water, sanitation and hygiene is now being tested as part of innovative pilot research project, The Business Case for WASH, which incorporates the HSBC Sustainable Supply Chains project. The research aims to provide vital evidence of business resilience built through the return on investment of access to water, sanitation and hygiene. A decrease in lateness and absenteeism, increased worker morale, health and productivity and greater employee retention has already been reported.
The Women’s Empowerment Water Entrepreneurship project, initiated in Bangladesh as part of the HSBC Water Programme, has been shortlisted for a 2020 Financial Times/ International Finance Corporation Transformational Business Award in the Food, Water and Land category.
The project upskills and empowers women to own and operate climate-resilient reverse osmosis water plants. Reverse osmosis technology is one of a very limited set of options available to provide freshwater in coastal Bangladesh, where much of the groundwater is contaminated by salinity, and surface water sources such as rainwater and pond water provide limited, erratic and unsafe supply.
Reverse osmosis plants play a vital role in mitigating freshwater scarcity as a result of climate change.
For women and girls, who often carry the burden of water collection, the plants reduce time spent travelling to unsafe water sources which reduces their ability to receive education or complete paid work. The project has engaged women as active agents of change leading the sustainable health and economic growth of their communities.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chains have experienced extreme disruption as a result of enforced lockdowns aimed at preventing infection transmission. As supply chain workplaces reopen, a robust and tailored water, sanitation – and, critically – hygiene (WASH) action plan is vital to protect workforce health and allow a return to operation, thereby ensuring financial resilience and long-term business continuity.
WaterAid, with the support of HSBC, is working with readymade garment factories who supply clothes to global high street fashion brands, delivering hygiene education and implementing clean water solutions to support workers and communities during COVID-19.
These simple measures protect the health of workers, enable factories to operate safely, help global supply chains get back in action and deliver long-term business resilience by building back better.
Have you ever thought about the journey of your clothes, and the impact they have on people’s lives and the environment?
In May 2019, WaterAid attended the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the world’s largest sustainable fashion event, to demonstrate why water is critical to encouraging a shift towards sustainable fashion.
Together with HSBC and WWF, WaterAid developed an interactive installation to demonstrate the importance of water provision and stewardship to promoting the sustainability of global apparel supply chains.
In 2018, HSBC and WaterAid launched a three year programme to deliver essential water and sanitation services in apparel factories and nearby communities in Bangladesh and India.
As well as improving living and working conditions, this funding will enable WaterAid to pilot test metrics as part of the wider Business Case for WASH project, which aims to provide evidence of the business benefits and financial value of WASH interventions.
WaterAid and HSBC are working together to bring clean water powered by renewable technology to communities around the world. In December 2018, we attended the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) to champion sustainability to build a brighter future for all. Watch the film below to find out more.
To celebrate the launch of the new Supply Chains in Apparel Sector Programme at Stockholm World Water Week, WaterAid and HSBC have created this new animation to highlight the impact of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services for workers in the supply chains globally and to strengthen the business case for WASH.
The film showcases the impact of climate change on access to clean water and the knock on effects for small businesses in Dacope, Bangladesh. WaterAid and and HSBC have been working together in Bangladesh since 2012 to provide climate-resilient clean water resources.
What our partners say
Through reaching so many with clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, the opportunity for long-term community prosperity across the programme’s focus countries - India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria – has been unlocked.
WASH is a critical element in supporting individuals to reach their potential, stimulating local business and in turn helping regional economies to thrive.
Sustainability is a core priority at HSBC. It has never been more important for businesses to understand the integrated economic, environmental and social responsibility of their operations, particularly in marginalised communities. We champion this tenet through our ongoing work with WaterAid in creating sustainable supply chains.
Our partnership in WaterAid’s Business Case for WASH, a pilot project testing the commercial benefits to businesses who embed improved WASH practices into supply chains, is an innovative exploration into this nexus of sustainability and finance.”
The Water Programme website
The Water Programme website is dedicated to the HSBC Water Programme, detailing the programmes vast array of achievements over the past 8 years.
Aftershock: a HSBC supported documentary
On 25 April 2015, Nepal experienced the country’s worst earthquake in 80 years. Thousands of people had to come to terms with the loss of family members and friends, as well as the destruction of their homes and essential infrastructure – including taps and toilets.
The HSBC Water Programme funded our first-ever virtual reality documentary, in which we tell the story of just one of the communities affected: Kharelthok.
The HSBC Water Programme legacy
Find out more about the HSBC Water Programme legacy by watching the film below: