ITT Watermark helps Mercy Corps assess, address needs in Indonesia, Niger

WHITE PLAINS, NY, Sept. 22, 2009 -- In the space of days, two countries on opposite sides of the earth were devastated by natural disasters...

• After earthquake and flooding in early September, ITT Corp. and its philanthropic partners seek to ensure safe water supplies in remote regions

WHITE PLAINS, NY, Sept. 22, 2009 -- In the space of days, two countries on opposite sides of the earth were devastated by natural disasters. First came a 7.3-magnitude earthquake in Indonesia on Sept. 2, followed by torrential rains and flooding in the African country of Niger.

With funding from ITT Watermark, emergency teams from Mercy Corps were able to travel to the most affected areas within 24 hours of the disasters to assess and begin addressing the dire situations. In both countries, the teams encountered widespread damage and severe food and water shortages.

The earthquake in Indonesia destroyed more than 64,000 houses, most of them in the West Java region. A three-person Mercy Corps team conducted a rapid assessment of one of the hardest hit areas -- the Garut District -- and quickly discovered that many displaced survivors, especially those in remote areas, hadn't yet received basic aid in terms of temporary housing and food and water.

The team's initial report stated that "there is a lack of sanitation and clean water, high levels of diarrhea reported among children under five, and temporary shelter and camp management needs." Where possible, they provided emergency support and training to help breastfeeding mothers and infants, the most vulnerable people in any disaster situation. They also made a case for extending and deepening the outreach efforts to include emergency hygiene, water and sanitation interventions in the temporary camps being set up throughout the West Java region.

Currently, Mercy Corps is currently working to organize a larger-scale humanitarian aid response in Indonesia and will utilize ITT Watermark funds to carry it out.

A similar scenario is now playing out in the Agadez region of Niger, where a Mercy Corps assessment team is traveling to some of the country's most remote and impoverished villages to determine the extent of the flooding damage.

This has been one of the rainiest years in recent history in Niger, and the tipping point came in early September when floodwaters began ravaging villages and farms. To date, the floods have washed away the homes and livelihoods of more than 30,000 people in Niger. Rains are still falling, making the aid mission even more difficult -- and more urgent.

As in Indonesia, ITT Watermark funds are helping to cover the costs of Mercy Corp's disaster assessment work in Niger, and further funds will be available when a full-scale response plan is put into place.

"One of the goals of ITT Watermark is to secure safe water supplies for people in times of emergency, and we are working with our front-line partners, Mercy Corps, to do exactly that in Indonesia and Niger" says Bjorn von Euler, Director of Corporate Philanthropy for ITT. "I know I speak for all the employees of ITT when I say that we are proud of this partnership because it gives water and life and some sense of normalcy back to people at a time when they need it most."

ITT Watermark inquiries should be sent to Andy Hilton, communications director at ITT Water & Wastewater, the largest unit of ITT Corp., at +1 914 641 2160 or andy.hilton@itt.com

In establishing ITT Watermark (www.ittwatermark.com) as its signature philanthropy program, ITT and its partners -- Water For People, China Women's Development Foundation and Mercy Corps -- share a common belief and approach. ITT has committed $3 million over the next three years to bring safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to 300 schools in water-stressed regions of the developing world -- a pledge that will ultimately improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families. Through ITT Watermark, the company is also leveraging its global network of more than 40,000 employees to lend individual support to water-related volunteer activities in their local areas.

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