Corporate Responsibility, Engineering, Water

In October, AECOM Chairman and CEO Mike Burke announced our company would be increasing its support to Water For People and Engineers Without Borders USA — two nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of millions of people.

AECOM has a longstanding relationship with these organizations. Combined, my colleagues have donated more than US$1.1 million and volunteered hundreds of hours to help them achieve their missions.

As director of our International Development group’s Water Services business in the U.S., I’m familiar with these organizations’ important work and leadership in the water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. I’m excited about our partnerships because of the incredible value they will bring to the WASH sector in developing countries and what they mean to our promise to deliver a better world.

Water For People

I was first introduced to Water For People in the mid-2000s. The organization had been around for 15 years, building out needed water infrastructure and facilities and working hand-in-hand with communities. It was under the dynamic leadership of Ned Breslin (and now Eleanor Allen) that Water For People reinvented itself as a market-leading, innovative and creative disruptor in the WASH sector.

Through an Everyone, Forever impact model, Water For People aims to reach all members in the communities in which they work to guarantee sustainable infrastructure. Everyone, Forever focuses on co-investing, capacity building, monitoring, reporting and replication, and has quickly become a standard for sustainable programming. Water For People is an early adopter of new technology (such as Akvo Flow — a data collection and monitoring tool), bringing real-time monitoring to game-changing WASH interventions.

These programming principles are ones our International Development group is also working to advance. We’re expanding our services in developing countries and using cutting-edge solutions to provide real-time information and long-term benefits.

Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA)

One of my professional interests is supporting capacity strengthening of WASH institutions. I’m a firm believer that we can’t just “fix the pipes,” we must enable and empower the institutions responsible for fixing the pipes. EWB-USA focuses on communities first to ensure lasting change.

Studies by the International Water Association point to a tremendous deficit in trained personnel internationally — there are simply not enough appropriately skilled water professionals to support the attainment of universal access to safe water and sanitation. In Mozambique, for example, double the number of trained professionals is needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. At the heart of EWB-USA’s success is a belief in mentoring local community members, staff and experience exchanges, and embedding expertise to help address capacity gaps.

At AECOM, we have some of the best expertise in our industry. Providing company support to employees who volunteer with organizations such as EWB could greatly impact this skills gap.

I’m proud that AECOM has taken a stand to support these organizations. These partnerships will help us achieve our shared vision to improve lives and transform communities. If you wish to contribute, please make a one-time donation through the AECOM giving sites for Water For People and EWB-USA. Or… consider becoming a volunteer yourself!

To learn more about AECOM’s work with EWB-USA and Water For People, as well as our Corporate Responsibility platform — Blueprint for a Better World — visit:

Originally published Dec 22, 2017

Author: Darren Saywell