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H&M Pumps $9.3 M into WaterAid to Bring Safe Water, Toilets and Hygiene to Schools

H&M and WaterAid on Tuesday launched a new global partnership aimed at improving the health, education and future prospects of students by delivering safe water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in schools throughout the developing world.

The initiative will not only transform the lives of students by delivering immediate and long-term improvements to health and education, but also influence national and international policies around the right to safe water and sanitation, H&M says.

To make this happen H&M, through its philanthropic arm the H&M Conscious Foundation, will donate $9.3 million.

In 2013, H&M asked its customers and employees to decide which three development issues the H&M Conscious Foundation should support over the coming years. The result was clear: 'clean water' was one of the issues of most concern.

Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing more than 660,000 children every year, according to the World Health Organization. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, each day nearly 2,000 children under the age of 5 perish from the preventable (and treatable) illness

"When it comes to ensuring that both girls and boys have an equal chance to grow up healthy and reach their greatest potential, safe water, toilets and hygiene education at school can make all the difference in the world,” said WaterAid America CEO David Winder. “The generous support of the H&M Conscious Foundation will go a long way in helping WaterAid achieve the goal of making safe water and sanitation available to everyone, everywhere by the year 2030."

H&M, which has been working with WaterAid on clean water and safe sanitation since 2002, isn’t the only company working with the nonprofit to improve access to clean water. Last year, Coca Cola partnered with WaterAid to increase accessibility to safe drinking water for one of the poorest suburbs of Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and in two rural communities in southern Ethiopia.

Australian startup Who Gives a Crap, which sells eco-friendly toilet paper, gives half of its profits to WaterAid to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world. And WaterAid says it is closely involved with Unilever's Project Laser Beam initiative, part of the company's Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to bring safe drinking water to 500 million people (and end the roughly two million annual preventable deaths of children under five related to diarrhoeal illness by changing hand-washing behaviors of one billion people) by 2020.