Water changes lives
Water for All, Atlas Copco Group’s main community engagement initiative, was founded by a small group of committed employees in 1984 with the ambition to help a community in Peru drill for water to survive a serious drought. Since then the initiative has grown and there are currently more than 50 local Water for All teams with dedicated employees who volunteer to support water related projects ranging from small wells to sewer systems for entire villages. Manuela Stagnati in Italy is one of them.
Manuela Stagnati joined Atlas Copco Construction and Mining Technique Division in 1989, which today is the separate company Epiroc. Today she is working as Engineering Staff Admin & Marketing Support in the Oil-free Air Division within the Compressor Technique Business Area. Since 2014 she is a passionate Ambassador and President for the employee-driven community engagement Water for All in Italy.
Why is it important to get engaged in Water for All?
Because water changes lives, and giving water is giving health! I think it’s a moral duty to help people in need. Sometimes people don’t know how, what, where or who to help, but I found my answers in Water for All. The projects we support all relate to providing clean drinking water to people in need.
Through reports from our partner organizations whom we cooperate with, we follow our projects step by step, from initial start until project completion where we can see the benefits reaped in the communities. Meeting the beneficiaries in the field is the most amazing and motivating part of my voluntary work in Water for All.
Can you tell us more about your role in Water for All Italy and what you do?
One of the activities in the board is to select which projects to undertake in the future. Since the start of Water for All Italy we have cooperated with NGO Amref Health Africa to support projects in Eastern Africa. Water for All organizations over the world can however cooperate with different NGOs.
Our funding is based on employee donations, and the company then contributes twice that amount. To illustrate with an example, Atlas Copco Group gives twice the amount of every employee’s donation, so if an employee for example donates €10 every month, the company gives €20, meaning that it will be €30 going to water projects. In my role I also encourage donations and try to attract members. I find it essential to communicate with transparency and prioritize keeping employees and members updated on the status of the projects.
How does it work in practice when you decide to sponsor a project?
We sponsor projects that meet our requirements and our budget. Our projects have been implemented in many places in Africa e.g. in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Uganda. The majority of our water projects consist of surface and deep well installations, the protection of natural spring water, installing pipelines, water tanks, water points and water sanitation kiosks. Training in hygiene and sanitation is absolutely an important aspect of all projects as water from a new water source only stays clean if it is handled with care. Many of our project are aimed at supporting schools with water tanks and water sanitation kiosks. A good education begins with access to safe water and proper sanitation. For girls, the situation is especially troublesome. If schools do not have proper toilets, girls drop out once they reach puberty.
Is there any recent Water for All project that you would like to highlight and share some more details about?
Our most recently implemented projects were in 2019-2020 in the Republic of South Sudan. South Sudan gained independence in 2011, making it the world's newest nation. In addition to the water emergency that the country is suffering from, the many years of internal conflict and civil war made the situation more difficult, but it also meant that help was needed more than ever. Despite the critical circumstances, and COVID-19, all our water installations were implemented on time.
Can you share anything exciting about future Water for All initiatives?
Yes, we have a project in northern Uganda that started in January 2021. Our partner in this project is Amref Health Africa. Over the course of three years we will reach almost 30,000 people in 48 villages, ensuring sustainable access to water for at least 15 years. Water for All organizations from around the world have joined forces with the Peter Wallenberg Water for All Foundation to invest in an area in great need but also great potential.