American automobile major, Ford Motor Company has announced that it is funding $200,000 (Rs 1.26 crore), for supporting two international social projects that aim to improve health and sanitation conditions in India and Mexico, as part of the Bill Ford Better World Challenge (BFBWC).
The grants are part of the Ford Motor Company Fund’s annual community improvement campaign which was launched in 2015 as part of the 10th anniversary of Ford Volunteer Corps.
The projects will be jointly funded by the Ford Fund and Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. The program works to give employee volunteers the opportunity to serve with community activists in places worldwide where Ford does business. It encourages employees and community partners to submit ideas that will solve global problems including issues surrounding mobility, as well as the scarcity of food, water and shelter.
“I am extremely proud of the work our employees are doing to bring about positive change around the world. Access to basic necessities is not something that can be taken for granted in many communities, and these projects will have an immediate and positive impact on the quality of life for so many people,” said Bill Ford.
In the rural district of Kancheepuram, India, just outside of Chennai where toilets and private restroom facilities are nonexistent, the company’s grant of $140,000 (Rs 88 lakh) will provide 100 residential SMART toilets in three villages for a total of 300 toilets. The SMART toilet facility is equipped with lighting, allows for hand washing, and provides twin pits for sustainable use and maintenance, along with an education program for residents on good hygiene and sanitation practices.
“In these rural villages, open defecation is the normal practice. This proliferates disease, increases child mortality rates, and increases a woman’s chance of being attacked. Our hope with this program is to work to improve health conditions while offering people privacy, dignity and safety.” said Jennifer Leonard, a Ford brake engineer who is managing the project.
Construction in Kancheepuram is slated to begin in January with planned completion in second half of 2018. The toilet installations will be done by using the volunteer help from Ford employees at the Chennai plant and will be managed by Gramalaya, a NGO in India that works to install SMART toilets. The NGO has over 30 years of experience in sanitation programs, and is dedicated towards making the country open defecation-free.
In Guayacan, Mexico, near Hermosillo, potable water is a rarity. The earmarked $60,000 (Rs 37 lakh) grant will go towards building the Guayacan Community Center, where filtered water will be made available to residents, along with access to bathrooms with toilets and running water for hand washing. This will help around 750 families to have their own in-home water filtration system for a nominal one-time payment of $5 (Rs 315). Ford is working with Aqua Clara International, a Michigan-based NGO, to provide these water filters, along with providing free breakfast every Sunday that will be offered in conjunction with a local church. The Community center will also serve as host site for tutoring and other nonprofit services.
“Northwest Mexico has high concentrations of arsenic in the water, so this project will help make sure people have safe drinking water and a place to meet and gather. Having clean water is a basic necessity in life, so we believe this project will have a dramatic impact on the community,” said Cindy Turner, a Ford engineer who is leading the project. The organisers are in the process of securing construction approvals and expect to begin construction this winter.
Ford says it will also announce a third recipient for the 2017 grant program at a later date.