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Water Programme: changing lives

The Pantanal region in Brazil is one of the world’s largest and most diverse wetlands

As scientific experts gather in Stockholm for World Water Week, we provide an update on the HSBC Water Programme which is bringing safe water to communities around the world. The five-year, USD100 million programme, in partnership with Earthwatch, WaterAid and WWF, is now in its second year. Two stories from different sides of the world show how it is making a difference.

Uttar Pradesh, Northern India
In 2003, Ramesh Kumar was running a successful clothing business when he began to experience health problems. The skin on his palms became dry and he felt pain in his hands and feet.

Ramesh and his family have access to uncontaminated water, and his symptoms have begun to improve
Ramesh Kumar

Ramesh Kumar closed his business because of poor health

Soon, he found it hard to carry out his work and had to close his business. As the pain worsened, Ramesh began to despair.

Ramesh was suffering from arsenic poisoning. The well in his village, like many others in north-east India, had been contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic. Over time, drinking contaminated water can lead to skin disorders, nerve damage, lung and liver disease and cancer.

In 2010, WaterAid worked with a local organisation to pilot an arsenic filtration system in the village. Today, Ramesh and his family have access to uncontaminated water, and his symptoms have begun to improve.

By 2017, the HSBC Water Programme partners aim to:

  • Set up freshwater research projects in more than 20 cities worldwide
  • Ensure access to water for 1.1 million people and sanitation for 1.9 million people in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana and Nigeria
  • Protect rivers and freshwater resources in five priority freshwater places – the Yangtze, Ganges, Mekong, the Pantanal and the African Rift Valley

In 2012, the HSBC Water Programme helped to:

  • Provide safe water to more than 60,000 people and sanitation to more than 90,000 people in Asia and Africa
  • Carry out two major surveys of species in the Ganges and the Yangtze, informing national action plans to protect these rivers and to support thousands who depend on them for food and livelihoods
  • Create six Citizen Science Leader freshwater research pilots, with 2,600 HSBC employees registering for the programme

Working with the local government and with the support of the HSBC Water Programme, WaterAid is now aiming to introduce similar technologies across the region, helping to ensure a safer and healthier future for 18,000 people.

Mato Grosso State, Brazil
The Pantanal region in Brazil is one of the world’s largest and most diverse wetlands and home to thousands of species.

As well as attracting tourists, the Pantanal wetlands purify the water and protect the soil, providing benefits to local communities worth an estimated USD112 billion each year.

Today, however, the wetlands are under threat with increased settlement, agriculture and industry affecting the water quality.

Securing the future of the wetlands will require officials, businesses and local communities from across 20 different municipalities to work together. With the support of the HSBC Water Programme, WWF is helping local leaders to draw up a Pantanal Headwaters Pact, which will set out a shared approach to protecting the river basin.

In April 2013, more than 90 local representatives came together to help draft an agreement. Glauco Kimura, Water for Life Programme Coordinator for WWF Brazil, said: “The seminar reflected the collaborative approach we need to tackle the many issues impacting water quantity and quality, and while there’s a lot left to do, we now have clear next steps in place with early commitment from key organisations.”

You can read more about these, and the many other projects supported by the HSBC Water Programme, at