India’s great 21st century challenge: hygiene and sanitation
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India’s great 21st century challenge: hygiene and sanitation

India is right up there with China when it comes to large, fast-growing, economies. Yet, it has a poor record when it comes to sanitation. In cities, 157 million people – more than the entire population of Russia – don’t have access to basic sanitation. As a result, a large portion of solid waste gets dumped into rivers and lakes, which then winds up as untreated drinking water. The effects of this cycle are dire: according to the World Bank, 10% of deaths in India are linked to unhygienic sanitation. Needless to say, this state of affairs is a huge threat to India’s economy. Is there help on the horizon?

Xylem Inc.’s share price has appreciated by 31% so far this year

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Global water-technology company Xylem Inc. is a specialist in the liquid’s entire lifecycle, from flush to (potentially) water fountain. But, as any specialist will eagerly tell you, a great deal of work has to take place between those two events. On its website, Xylem notes that it “values the Indian market greatly and attaches high importance” to growth in the country.

That’s why India is a region “particularly” targeted by the company’s ‘Water Mark’ program – a multimillion-dollar, three year, quest to provide 300 schools with “safe water, sanitation and hygiene education” in “water stressed regions of Asia”.

More recently, the company has donated money to Mercy Corps to support its work in South Asia, where severe monsoon flooding has taken its toll. It is also funding the construction of two water towers near a disaster relief center in Maharashtra, India. Xylem’s president and CEO, Patrick Decker, spoke about the donations:

“Crises like these call for us all to help friends, colleagues and communities recover from devastating impact and loss. As communities are confronted with more severe weather events than ever before, we stand firm in our commitment to support them prepare for and recover quickly from the aftermath. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted as they begin to rebuild their lives.”

Chronic infections stemming from poor hygiene and sanitation cause stunted growth in nearly 44 million children below the age of five. A further 300,000 die every year from diarrheal diseases. There is little doubt that Xylem, in tandem with the country’s government, has its work cut out for it.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Xylem Inc. in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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