Corporate partnerships: WaterAid’s Twinings link could help 4,000 people


WaterAid’s partnership with the tea company Twinings is a good example of a company looking to leverage more out of a corporate tie-up.

The company has given the charity £220,000 so that it can establish clean water supplies to 30 villages in Darjeeling, north-east India, where it sources tea from plantations. The two organisations say that the work will improve the lives of 4,000 people by providing access to clean water and decent toilets in an area where the majority of people are dependent on the tea industry.

It will particularly focus on the challenges faced by women, including menstrual hygiene management: women are at risk of infection and miss out on wages because they have to return home to change during their periods.

Fresh water in the area is also in short supply because the springs are vulnerable to contamination, so diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases are common.

Bipul Borah, Twinings’ ethical sourcing manager for India and Sri Lanka, says the partnership began after the company approached the charity in 2016 for advice on water, sanitation and hygiene as part of Twinings’ Sourced with Care initiative, which aims to improve conditions in its supply chain and was launched that year.

“Twinings does not own any plantations; instead we buy teas from selected tea gardens across the world,” says Borah. “Sourced with Care is a journey towards ensuring people working and living in our supply chain have a good quality of life.”

He says the programme has the “ambitious goal” of improving the lives of 500,000 people in communities from which the company sources its materials in the areas of living standards, life opportunities and livelihoods, all by 2020.

“We know there are many issues and we are only part of the solution, but our efforts to improve conditions in the tea industry are central to the way we do business at Twinings,” he says.

The project in Darjeeling is set to last until 2021, but Borah says the company is open to extending the partnership in future. “We hope to develop our partnership to expand into additional tea estates in Darjeeling and are keen to explore opportunities to deepen and develop our partnership,” he says.


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