The Baxter International Foundation and UNICEF USA Announce Partnership to Improve Water Security in Colombia

Press Release
  • Three-year program is designed to increase access to safe and equitable water, sanitation and hygiene for vulnerable children and communities


Deerfield, Ill. and New York -

The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter International Inc. (NYSE:BAX), and UNICEF USA today announced a partnership to improve access to safe water in La Guajira, Colombia, one of the country’s most water-challenged regions. A $1.5 million grant from the Foundation is fueling the three-year initiative aimed at ensuring thousands of children, adolescents, families and communities benefit from basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services through a multifaceted strategy that focuses on rehabilitation, education and collaboration.

“Millions of people around the world lack access to safe and clean water—one of life’s most critical natural resources—which can be devastating for both individuals and their communities,” said José (Joe) E. Almeida, chairman and chief executive officer of Baxter. “In support of Baxter’s mission to save and sustain lives, we are proud to expand our investment in water initiatives through a partnership with UNICEF that will support the health of communities in need.”  

Safe water is crucial for good health, nutrition and well-being, proper sanitation and hygiene, and disease prevention. In fact, diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation are among the world’s leading causes of death in children under five years old. Unfortunately, the latest data show that two billion people worldwide[i] lack access to safe water at home, 818 million children lack soap and water at school[ii] and one-quarter of all health care facilities lack basic water services.[iii] In Colombia, according to Joint Monitoring Programme (UNICEF/WHO), 40 percent of rural areas have access to safely managed water[iv] and an estimated 20 percent of the rural population in La Guajira has access to improved water sources, according to the latest report from the Colombian government.

“Access to clean water and a safe environment is the right of every child and family,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO, UNICEF USA. “We need investment and innovation to help children thrive and UNICEF is grateful for the Baxter International Foundation’s support in helping to improve the lives of children and vulnerable communities in Colombia.”

The Baxter International Foundation and UNICEF project will help provide access to safe drinking water through rehabilitating water systems, installing solar panels, monitoring water quality, and distributing water filters and hygiene kits to families. The project will also help improve basic sanitation conditions to eliminate open defecation by developing strategies to improve key hygiene practices, including handwashing with soap and safe household water storage, and will support ongoing national and local government work to improve WASH in this region.

With decades of experience implementing WASH programs in more than 100 countries, and operations in Colombia for more than 70 years, UNICEF is uniquely positioned to develop and implement this collaborative initiative. Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation also share a strong history of investing in projects that support access to safe water and enhance sanitation in water-stressed areas where the company has facilities. In addition, Baxter Colombia is celebrating its 65-year anniversary in 2021 and is proud of the company’s longstanding citizenship in the region. With this initiative, UNICEF, Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation seek to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.

About the Baxter International Foundation

Every day, Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who depend on our products, and in the communities where our employees live and work. The Foundation helps advance Baxter’s mission to save and sustain lives by partnering with organizations around the world to increase access to healthcare for the underserved, develop the next generation of innovators who will lead the way in advancing healthcare and to create a positive, long-lasting impact in communities globally. For more information, please visit our Corporate Responsibility page.

Baxter is a registered trademark of Baxter International Inc.


The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to pursue a more equitable world for every child. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF USA advances the global mission of UNICEF by rallying the American public to support the world’s most vulnerable children. Together, we are working toward a world that upholds the rights of all children and helps every child thrive. For more information visit

UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product or service.

UNICEF’s work is funded entirely through the voluntary support of millions of people around the world and our partners in government, civil society and the private sector.

[i] Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020: five years into the SDGs. Geneva: World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2021. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO

[ii] Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in schools: special focus on COVID-19. New York: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), 2020.

[iii] Global progress report on water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities: fundamentals first. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.