Global effort begins to bring fresh water to millions

Cummins Inc. has unveiled a new community program to address the global water crisis through partnerships with experts and investments in projects around the world to bring fresh water to 20 million people who currently lack access.

The Columbus-based company announced Wednesday the new program, called Cummins Water Works, will initially be supported by $8 million in Cummins grants focusing on efforts in five water-stressed countries, including Mexico, Brazil, India, South Africa and the United States.

The program is being launched through partnerships with, a nonprofit co-founded by actor Matt Damon, and The Nature Conservancy, a Virginia-based environmental nonprofit that works in more than 70 countries, according to the organization’s website.

Currently, about 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries, including 733 million who live critically water-stressed countries, according to UN-Water, which coordinates the United Nations’ efforts on water and sanitation issues.

The United Nations predicts 700 million people — about 8% of the world’s population — could be displaced by water scarcity by the end of the decade.

Within the next four years, Cummins Water Works is expected to bring fresh water to 20 million people who would not otherwise have access to it while striving to produce net water benefits that exceed Cummins’ annual water use in all Cummins regions by 2030 and in all Cummins communities by 2050, the company said.

“The water crisis affects so many issues that are important to us in our communities, including health, education, gender equity and economic opportunity,” Mary Chandler, Cummins vice president of corporate responsibility and community relations, said in a statement.

“We are working to address climate change across all aspects of the company — improving our operations, developing new products and working closely with our customers and suppliers,” she said. “In our communities, we are working to address one of the primary effects of climate change, namely water stress, through Cummins Water Works.”

Cummins said it views the new program as a critical piece in its commitments to sustainability and addressing climate change.

Initially, Cummins anticipates working with to plan and engage in projections in Mexico, Brazil and India that are mainly focused on improving water cost, quality and availability, the company said.

Cummins expects to work with The Nature Conservancy to help plan and engage in projects in Brazil, United States and India that are mainly focused on improving, repairing and strengthening primary water sources that communities depend on.

To date, Cummins water projects have generated more than 4 billion gallons in annual water benefits to communities around the word.

Through PLANET 2050, an environmental sustainability strategy the company unveiled in 2019, Cummins said it has reduced its own direct water usage by almost 30%, and 16 of its sites globally have been validated as water neutral.

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