- The Coca-Cola company announced today a US $30 million commitment over the next six years to provide access to safe drinking water to communities throughout Africa.
The funding which will be dished through the company's Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) and implemented by the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, will provide at least 2 million Africans with clean water and sanitation by 2015.
“Africa’s water crisis threatens the health of its population and, therefore, its prospects for economic growth,” said Muhtar Kent, President and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company.
He said with strong, healthy people the business can grow and be sustainable, saying, "Helping African communities tackle their water challenges is an important priority for our Company and our bottling partners and is an area where we can make a positive and lasting impact.”
According to the World Health Organisation, more than 300 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water, and millions die each year from preventable waterborne illnesses. Up to half of the region’s population at any one time suffers from diseases related to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.
According to reports, between 2004 and 2015, the number of people living without access to safe water in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by 47 million people. Africa is expected to miss the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals target for access to clean drinking water by 111 million people and the sanitation target by 289 million, the Coca-Cola company observed in its statement.
“No single organisation can resolve Africa’s development challenges, but together with civic society, nongovernmental organizations and government we can make a positive difference in the lives of the people who make up our communities,” said William Asiko, President of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation.
The Foundation currently has water projects in 19 African countries - Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia - reaching over 300,000 people.
These water projects, according to the company, are all implemented in partnership with local communities in each country, contributing to the Company’s aspirational water stewardship goal of returning to communities and to nature an amount of water equivalent to what is use in all beverages and their production.
The Company has also put in place a strategy for achieving that goal with three components that comprise, improving water efficiency by 20 percent by 2012, compared to a baseline year 2004; returning all water the company uses for manufacturing processes to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and agriculture by the end of 2010, and; by expanding the company’s support of healthy watersheds and sustainable community water programmes to balance the water used in its finished beverage.
“Having access to clean water still remains a luxury, not a given, in large parts of the continent,” Mr Asiko said. “RAIN helps us both fulfill our environmental goals while also providing health benefits that will allow our communities and our business to grow and prosper,” he said.
The Coca-Cola Company has an established presence in Africa. With its first operations in South Africa in 1928, the company currently operates in all 56 countries and territories on the continent, employing over 60,000 people.
The Coca-Cola Company established the Africa Foundation in 2001 to implement the company’s community initiatives in Africa. Implementing over 130 programmes in 32 countries across Africa, the Foundation’s programmes are said to have reached over 1,000,000 people since its inception, with aims to enable healthy, prosperous communities by investing in the critical areas of water, entrepreneurship, education and health.
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