Dow’s Habitat for Humanity Expansion Efforts to Include WASH

The Dow Chemical Company and its foundation have had an ongoing relationship with Habitat for Humanity for over 30 years. Now, Dow's support for Habitat will include work that meets other basic human needs, beyond housing. 

Dow became a national partner with Habitat for Humanity in 1983. Since then, both the company and the foundation have expanded support beyond the United States to projects in a number of countries around the world as well. Dow’s latest investments will allow for the support in 30 countries, including first-time projects in Ethiopia, Argentina, Columbia, and Nepal.

In its press release, Dow didn’t lay out exact numbers regarding monetary and in-kind donations. However, the foundation has a history of awarding around $1.5 million in grants to Habitat for Humanity annually. In-kind donations from the Dow Chemical Company come in anywhere between $1 million and $5 million. In-kind donations typically come in the form of Dow products including insulation, weather barriers, and insulating foam sealants.

What makes Dow’s latest support different than its past commitments is that it will not only focus on building homes, but on water and sanitation projects as well. Beginning in Ethiopia, Dow and Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia will embark on a new project building sanitation facilities aimed at serving over 140 families in the country’s capital city, Addis Ababa.

Although this is the first time Dow has supported Habitat’s water and sanitation efforts, it has been focused on WASH issues for a while now. Initially concentrating on reaching the water and sanitation objectives of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, Dow has revamped its work toward those MDGs, recently announcing its 2025 Sustainability Goals.

Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals aim to impact 1 billion people while delivering cost savings or new cash flows for the company of $1 billion. Dow had previously set similar goals in 1995 and 2015. The 1995 goals resulted in $5 billion in safety, waste, water, and energy savings. In 2015, the foundation aims to address product sustainability and global health challenges including food, energy, water and improved sanitation and hygiene.

Of course, Dow Chemical has long been criticized for its environmental and health track record, as well as tax evasion. The company has taken a beating from the press for decades, and there is some seriously bad blood between Dow and the communities in which it operates. For many multinational corporations, public acrimony can serve as a catalyst to heighten their social responsibility and philanthropic efforts. Whatever the motivation, Dow takes this work seriously.