IAPMO launches foundation to help solve global water issues

By Mike Flenniken and Russ Chaney, IAPMO CEO

The IAPMO Group recently announced the formation of the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH).

IWSH is a charitable foundation whose mission is to work to improve on the human condition by fostering the basic human right of safe access to clean water and sanitation. IWSH seeks to align IAPMO’s vital work with like-minded organisations worldwide.

According to statistics released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, 2.4 billion people lack access to such basic sanitation services as toilets or latrines, and water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population — and this number is expected to rise. IWSH will seek to align IAPMO’s existing projects throughout the world with those of government, industry, and the communities where the association works to ensure water systems are safe and sustainable.

The foundation’s board of trustees consists of five former members of IAPMO’s board of directors: chairman Tom Gugino, treasurer Bud Riestenberg, as well as Alfred Ortega, Dan Daniels, and Bill Erickson.

“I must confess that as a second-generation plumber, I had taken 24/7 access to a potable water system for granted,” Gugino says. “IAPMO sent Jed Scheuermann and me to Nepal in January of 2013 to assist Healthabitat with devising waste management solutions for villages in the impoverished nation. The harsh reality of what we found there made me think about the purpose of our plumbing code, which is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. We saw how each family’s ability to live a healthy life was elevated by having a septic tank and a building with a rain gutter draining into a water-holding tank. Please join with us in changing lives by providing a basic form of sanitation to protect public health.”

IWSH serves as the bridge for the international water, sanitation, and hygiene community, with specific focus on the plumbing industry’s role in community collaboration and educational exchange. The foundation has three primary goals:

  • To develop frameworks for water and sanitation systems by partnering with corporations, governments, industry, charities, and organisations in water-stressed or developing countries, to assist in reaching the UN Sustainable Goals that are focused on the availability and the standardisation methods for water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • To build a skilled workforce through local education and training programmes, thereby optimising opportunities to standardise the industry through personnel certification and enhancement providing jobs, as well as optimum on-site maintenance of projects in the continuing creation and building up of sustainable communities.
  • To establish reliable supply chains by devoting our resources and technical expertise to work with public and private partners, focusing on the unique positioning created within the water, sanitation, and health communities.


IAPMO CEO Russ Chaney says the organisation has long been keenly aware of its obligation to society and the experience and skills it can bring to an effort to either eliminate or largely reduce the survival challenges that many across the globe face each day.

“With the support of numerous like-minded partners, IWSH will work to enhance the living conditions of those who are faced with the daily challenges of living a healthy lifestyle,” he said. “In many countries, it is not possible to gain access to education and personal growth without the ability to have a safe living environment and access to the essentials of life: potable water and safe sanitary conditions. I look forward to our efforts, which will be strategically developed under the IWSH banner, in support of the basic human right of access to safe water and sanitation.”

IWSH will support existing initiatives already under way in Indonesia, India, Jordan, Nepal, and South Africa. Additionally, IWSH will continue to identify nations where improvements in the governance of their water and sanitation services would lead to positive outcomes associated with clean water and sanitation access.
“The IWSH Foundation has been created to serve as the necessary bridge for the international water, sanitation, and hygiene community, with a specific focus on the role of the plumbing industry in community collaboration and educational exchange,” IWSH managing director Megan Lehtonen says. “Harnessing the power of the collective, we are in a critical position to capitalise on the vast industry network and expertise, and to ensure the health and the safety of the global community by increasing access to safe drinking water and sanitation systems. Now is the time to get involved to expand IAPMO’s global efforts and make a valuable contribution to society with tangible, impactful benefits the world over.”

For more information about the IWSH Foundation, please visit www.iwsh.org

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