Diageo SEA takes its biggest step in sustainability with latest project

Beer and spirits company Diageo SEA has partnered with WaterAid, an international non-governmental organisation that helps get clean water and decent toilets to communities around the world. The partnership will support the launch of a women-led project to provide access to clean water, improve livelihoods, and build stronger communities in townships of Yangon, Myanmar.

This project marks the first partnership between Diageo and WaterAid in SEA, and is Diageo’s largest single investment in a sustainability and society project in SEA. The project aims to give 10,000 people access to clean water in households and healthcare facilities through women’s social projects. A further 30,000 people will be reached indirectly through promoting clean water and prevention of diseases. Prior to the partnership, WaterAid Myanmar had been running public awareness campaigns since February in response to the pandemic, which included television broadcasts aimed at improving good hygiene awareness.

Apart from providing educational and entrepreneurial opportunities in peri-urban Yangon, women will be encouraged to sell clean water produced by newly-built water treatment systems, enabling them to improve their livelihoods, stimulate the local economy, and provide clean water in their communities. Additionally, education on menstrual health and good hygiene, such as hand washing with soap will also be provided.

The project, costing 200,000 GBP (about US$260,000) in total, will run over a 27-month period, with WaterAid Myanmar working in collaboration with the Yangon City Development Committee, relevant local government authorities and local communities to ensure areas in most need of clean and safe water are reached.

Apurvi Sheth, MD of Diageo SEA said it was always Diageo’s belief and part of its DNA to create value amongst communities where it worked and operated in. “Providing access to safe drinking water is not only a key UN Sustainable Development Goal, but also embedded as a priority in the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan. Through this project, we will work with WaterAid to create impactful and lasting change to benefit the livelihoods of people in the communities, especially women,” Sheth added.

Shihab Uddin Ahamad, country director of WaterAid Myanmar said the best way to help women was to ensure their access to clean and safe water first, adding that this project would not only provide clean and safe water to women, but also create an opportunity for them to become entrepreneurs and supply safe water for communities.

“The global water and sanitation crisis needs a collaborative approach between NGOs, the private sector, and governments to ensure everyone has clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene by 2030. This project will serve as a step forward in achieving this goal,” Ahamad said.

Dan Chugg, UK ambassador to Myanmar said improving the livelihoods and conditions for some of Myanmar’s most vulnerable workers could only be a good thing and aligned well with many of the initiatives the UK government was supporting in Myanmar. “The timing of this programme, not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also the monsoon season is an added bonus. I wish you every success,” Chugg added.

Prior to this project, Diageo recently launched plastic-free spirits in paper-based bottles made entirely from sustainably sourced wood, in an effort to become more sustainable without compromising on the quality of its products. Separately, in Singapore, it donated over 1,000 meals to vulnerable communities across the country. The donation went towards those in need, with limited access to food as well as supporting the hawker centre teams.

Picture credits: 123rf.com

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