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Walmart donates $1.6M to support fire safety in Bangladesh

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has announced a $1.6 million donation to the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a U.S. based NGO, to establish the Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Academy in Bangladesh. Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is also a partner in providing support for the new Academy.

Through the EHS Academy, apparel manufacturers in Bangladesh will have access to high quality, affordable and comprehensive training on fire safety and environment, health and workplace safety. In addition to funding, Walmart will also provide technical support and advice to ISC. The goal of the partnership is to provide a local, long-term platform for addressing challenges in the supply chain related to fire safety through technical training and engagement.

"We urgently need to create long-term change in Bangladesh. Today, the immediate need may be fire safety – but we can't tackle these challenges one at a time. From fire safety, to toxic chemicals, to greenhouse gas emissions– we need to stress comprehensive, systemic change in how factories understand and address interrelated environment, health and safety issues over the long term," said ISC's president, George Hamilton. "In partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), and other corporate partners, led by Walmart, ISC is developing a locally owned and operated nonprofit Environmental Health and Safety Academy that will train 2,000 Bangladeshi factory managers annually in the skills they need to drive factories toward better safety and sustainability. It's good for them, it's good for their communities and it's good for the world."

The initial focus of EHS Academy in Bangladesh will be the ready-made garment sector, and there will be a strong emphasis on fire safety, water management, enhancing gender equity in the workplace and creating professional opportunities for Bangladeshi women. 

"At Walmart, as we work to raise standards in the global supply chain we continue to actively seek out partnerships with government stakeholders, nonprofits and NGOs. That is why were are partnering with ISC, who is known for combining expertise in leadership, institutional development and community capacity building to improving people's lives and the earth's ecosystem," said Rajan Kamalanathan, VP ethical sourcing for Walmart.  "The EHS Academy is an important part of our ongoing commitment to improve fire safety standards in Bangladesh and we are proud to partner with ISC to address the critical need for training around fire safety, health and workplace safety."