AECOM Impact Blog: Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

AECOM Impact Blog: Increasing Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

AECOM’s Richard Hope helps to provide clean water in Guatemala.

A young girl in Guatemala looks after her brother.

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Check out @AECOM's most recent #AECOMImpact blog post on providing clean water in Guatemala with @waterforpeople.
Monday, December 22, 2014 - 9:05am

CAMPAIGN: Corporate Social Responsibility


AECOM Impact blog

AECOM's Richard Hope, chief technical officer, water, Americas, shares his experience providing clean water in Guatemala.

For many, it is hard to understand not having access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Unfortunately, this is a reality for 780 million people in the world today. The statistics are truly frightening:

  • 780 million people do not have access to clean water.
  • 5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.
  • Approximately every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation.
  • 152 million work hours per day are spent by women and girls around the world collecting water.

We can help make a difference by donating time and money to organizations such as Water For People that work to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.

Early in my career, I spent time living in Lesotho and Botswana while working on water projects and truly gained an understanding of the importance of water and sanitation in human health and development.. This experience has stayed with me and, as a result, I try to support water projects in developing countries when I can.

Water For People has been active since the early 1990s, and I was lucky enough to go to Guatemala on one of its first trips. I had an exciting time in Guatemala examining the existing, non-functional water system for three villages, and identifying improvements that were needed to fix the system. In the following years, we installed a new pump and generator and helped to build a concrete storage tank.

During this time, I lived with and shared meals with a hospitable local family and enjoyed their excitement about getting a more consistent water supply. Our trips to view the existing (non-working) facilities were always an event as village leaders joined us with what seemed like all of the kids in the village. And getting caught in a flash flood was just part of the experience.

Since this project, I traveled to Guatemala in 2010 and 2011 to work on different water projects where we designed and helped to construct water tanks and pipelines. In my most recent trip to Guatemala, the leaders in the villages we were supporting set off fireworks to start the project. (I don’t see that much in the U.S.).

Water For People’s “Everyone Forever” approach enables countries worldwide to free themselves from water and sanitation aid dependency by striving to provide every household, school and public health facility or clinic in a defined geography with improved water and sanitations services. This aligns with AECOM’s mission of social responsibility, which focuses on community focus, collaboration, sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Many AECOM employees support Water For People through their time and/or financial commitment. In North America, we have established a network of regional and district Water For People advocates who will share opportunities and needs with our staff. Also, our employees are giving more than $110,000 per year to Water For People via direct deduction from their salary. To date, AECOM and employees have donated more than $640,000 to Water People, and we are hoping to encourage greater participation in 2015.

Check out more blog posts on social responsibility on the AECOM Impact blog!


With nearly 100,000 employees — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serving clients in more than 150 countries around the world following the acquisition of URS, AECOM is a premier, fully integrated infrastructure and support services firm. AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings. The company is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world’s built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM companies, including URS Corporation and Hunt Construction Group, had revenue of approximately $19.5 billion during the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2014. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at

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Director, Corporate Communications