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August 31, 2022

Gap Inc exceeds goal to help apparel communities access water in India

US specialty clothing retailer Gap Inc says it has achieved its goal to empower two million people to improve their access to water and sanitation in India through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Gap Inc Women + Water Alliance.

By Beth Wright

Gap Inc says the water initiative aims to improve and sustain the health and well-being of communities touched by the apparel industry in two states in India, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

Mark Breitbard, CEO of Gap, shared the news at SIWI World Water Week, adding the milestone shows the power the company has when it works with great partners and uses the scale of its business to drive meaningful change. 

Through the community water resilience initiative led by Gap Inc and USAID since 2017, implementing partners CARE, WaterAid, Water.org, and the Institute for Sustainable Communities have been working to empower women as advocates for their water needs, improve access to water and sanitation at the village and household levels, and advance water stewardship best practices for cotton farming. 

To date, Gap Inc’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) partners WaterAid and Water.org have reached more than two million people in India with improved access to water and sanitation.  The programming will continue to expand its impact through January 2023.

Meanwhile, this season, Gap is introducing its first products made with cotton that was grown in villages where the Women + Water Alliance is empowering women and community members to improve their access to clean water and sanitation. In parallel, we are also supporting farmers in those villages to convert to organic cotton-farming practices, to improve local water quality.

“We’re partnering with the Water Resilience Coalition to create a new phase of the initiative, where we invite other companies to join us in supporting on-the-ground partners in empowering women and communities to improve their water access,” Breitbard said.

Leveraging the structure Gap Inc has built through the Women + Water Alliance, the next phase will evolve with WASH partners, new co-funders, and new partners to reach even broader scale and new geographies, contributing to the Water Resilience Coalition’s overarching goal to bring climate-resilient access to water, sanitation, and hygiene to 300 million people by 2030, the retailer says.

“With a challenge as large-scale as access to clean water and sanitation, we can go further, faster, if we partner with other companies and industries who share our interest in helping to build climate and water resilience in high-risk water basins. Together we can scale our impact while engaging women at the local level as active participants and leaders in decision-making around water access for their communities,” adds Judy Adler, head of ESG at Gap Inc.

Last week, Gap Inc withdrew its prior fiscal 2022 outlook on the back of what CFO Katrina O’Connell calls recent execution challenges combined with uncertain macro trends.

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