Renewed partnership with Twinings brings clean water to tea workers

Famous for its tea, Darjeeling in northeast India faces a critical lack of access to clean drinking water. This is particularly true in agricultural and tea communities where people depend on extremely polluted streams and more than 80 percent of households do not have sanitary latrines. Waterborne illnesses interfere with daily-wage labourers' ability to work, limiting their income and resources for education, medical care and food.

Twinings and Mercy Corps have been working together in Darjeeling since 2010 to bring clean water to tea communities in Darjeeling. Over the course of three years, 4,850 people in 24 communities benefited from the project, waterborne diseases reduced by 66 percent and absenteeism at work reduced by 73 percent. The average time to fetch water decreased from 30 minutes to just five, a factor which has made a considerable difference to the lives of women and children. Today, the communities are working together to maintain their water systems.

The success of this partnership was recognised in 2014 by the Third Sector Business in the Community Awards, in London, where we were shortlisted alongside KPMG, Marks and Spencer and Thames Water, and, at the Institute of Fundraising Scotland Awards where our four-year partnership was recognised with a "Highly Commended" award in the Corporate and Trusts category.

Twinings and Mercy Corps recently renewed our Darjeeling partnership for a further four years. Twinings are contributing £280,000 to the Phase II Darjeeling Water and Sanitation project. This will deliver a combination of water and sanitation improvements alongside livelihood diversification activities which will make a significant impact on community development. Twinings has also extended their partnership with Mercy Corps to Assam. Employees will fundraise over the next 12 months to support a clean cookstove initiative, and funding will be matched by Twinings.

"There are enormous rewards in working holistically with the communities and suppliers that provide us with tea," said Twinings Commodities & Technical Services Director Nick Revett. "Improving social standards clearly demonstrates to all involved that our business is about long-term sustainability and that we truly care. It is much more than just a commercial transaction."

Welcoming the new partnership, Ali MacLeod, Director of Fundraising at Mercy Corps Scotland said, "Twinings' support has made a life-changing impact on the communities in Darjeeling and we are thrilled to be extending our partnership for another four years. The company is a joy to work with and not only shares Mercy Corps' vision of creating secure, productive and just communities, but through our partnership, Twinings has benefited from an increased understanding of issues within their supply chain."