Community development: Helping to improve education and support healthcare
Around the world ABB focuses its community efforts mainly on projects to support education and healthcare. In India, a wide variety of projects have been developed for many years to ensure the company increases the benefits to local communities of its presence and activities, and to ensure ABB’s programs are in line with legislation on business spending on corporate social responsibility.
ABB in India has five key areas of focus as part of its commitment to sustainable and inclusive development. They cover education, support for health and hygiene initiatives, environmental programs, increasing access to electricity in off-grid communities, and supporting skills development among the differently abled. As part of these efforts, the company has strengthened the processes for selecting, monitoring and measuring the outcomes of its projects, with regular reviews by the India country management.
ABB supports education efforts in a range of ways. Visiting a government school near ABB’s Peenya plant in Bangalore, the impacts are visible: ABB and its employees have helped to renovate classrooms and sanitation facilities, donated books and computers, supported the training of teachers, and financed a midday meal scheme which ensures all children have at least one square meal a day.
This kind of effort is replicated near other ABB locations such as Vadodara in Gujarat state and Nashik in Maharashtra. In total, ABB supports 12 government schools around the country; some 5,000 children benefit from the midday meal scheme.
Partnerships are key to evaluating needs and the successful conclusion of projects. ABB signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sikshana Foundation in 2016 to improve the quality of education and to support mentoring for some 9,000 children at primary and middle schools near an ABB factory in Karnataka state.
As part of efforts to scale up support for education, ABB has been harnessing its core competencies to electrify schools in different states. In 2016 it signed an agreement with authorities in West Bengal to provide string inverters to 190 schools so that rooftop solar photovoltaic systems can provide power and improve the learning conditions for students.
The provision of power in remote off-grid communities, whether through distributed solar solutions or microgrids, is also having a strong societal impact. More than 7,000 people now have access to electricity in desert hamlets in Rajasthan due to a solar lighting scheme run jointly with a non-governmental organization. The benefits are palpable: increased income for weavers and tailors, schools which stay open longer and greater access to healthcare.
A wide range of environmental programs are in place beyond the greening and tree planting initiatives in and around ABB’s plants. Access to water is often a major issue. In one project, ABB volunteers helped to deepen, widen and desilt dams and water courses in 12 villages in the Nashik area for a month in mid-2016. With the arrival of the monsoon, more water can flow and be stored in the villages.
ABB in India has had a long history helping differently abled people. Sub-assembly workshops are run in several parts of the country, enabling people to work and earn a wage, support their families and increase their self-respect.
Other schemes, carried out in collaboration with NGOs, include supporting differently abled girls in Nashik and working with the Association of People with Disability in Bangalore.
Such projects complement the benefits that ABB’s core business – the provision of power, and energy efficient products and automation solutions for industry – bring to society. Not least: these initiatives also motivate company employees.