Partnerships key to driving water sustainability initiatives across Africa

By Tshidi Ramogase, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa’s Chief Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability Officer

Reliable access to good, safe water is essential to life, nature, and the health of communities. Approximately 2.1 billion people around the world live in potentially water-scarce areas. Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or re-used, according to the United Nations World Water Development Report. By 2050, the global water demand will have increased by 30%.

Several African countries where Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) operates are water-stressed, yet water is critical to the long-term success of our business as well as the sustainability of the communities that we operate in. Furthermore, we cannot thrive without our communities thriving as well.

We all have a responsibility to use water as respectfully and efficiently as possible and continuously looking for new ways to reduce water use in our operations.

The Coca-Cola Company’s global Water Stewardship Strategy 2030 is a three-pronged strategy for water preservation. Its focus is on regenerative operations, reducing the amount of water we use in our production processes and rehabilitating, restoring, and protecting watersheds and catchments to ensure more water flows back to communities. It is also helping to create resilient communities by providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and by empowering women and girls who are the most vulnerable in most communities in which we operate. This pillar also focuses on assisting communities to adapt to impacts of climate change

Public-private collaborations are critical to develop sustainable solutions and augment the capacity of governments to respond to the current water-security supply challenges. Earlier this year, our South African bottler, CCBSA, successfully implemented Project Lungisa in Grabouw in partnership with the Theewaterskloof Municipality. The municipality was losing around 60% of its potable water due to leaks. Through this partnership, we trained young community members in plumbing to support the rehabilitation of water infrastructure, including fixing leaks in informal areas. Project Lungisa’s primary objective is to transfer technical skills to local youth while providing the community with better hygiene and sanitation. It is also helped drive awareness about the need to conserve water.

We have, in partnership with the South African Department of Water and Sanitation, opened five groundwater harvesting systems to aid residents of Walmer township in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in 2022. The systems, dubbed Coke Ville, pump, treat, store, and distribute clean water. These innovative off-grid, solar-powered groundwater harvesting and treatment projects are able to supply around 90 million litres of water per annum at no cost to the communities. Since inception in 2020, the Coke Ville programme has distributed well over 250 million litres of clean water in peri-urban and rural communities in Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Working together we can make a sustainable difference to protect our natural water resources across the continent.

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