Six million Africans in more than 4 000 communities across 41 countries have gained improved access to clean water thanks to the work of The Coca-Cola Foundation in a programme called the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN).
RAIN improves community access to water and sanitation while promoting better hygiene, for positive impacts on health and development. This lowers the risk of disease and the dignity, privacy and safety of communities, especially vulnerable women and children, is ensured. Education and training on improved hygiene behaviours and handwashing complement water access and sanitation to promote healthier living.
The programme was launched in 2009 to help countries across Africa achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6).
The programme’s success in reaching six million people is the result of a collective effort from more than 300 international and local public, private and civil society partners.
Coca-Cola Beverages Africa CEO Jacques Vermeulen said that as the largest Coke bottler on the continent, the company was especially pleased by the success of these partnerships in providing clean water to communities.
“By working together we achieve so much more than we could individually,” said Vermeulen.
“Over the past decade, RAIN has improved access to clean water for communities, schools, and clinics across Africa, while creating opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and skills generation. RAIN has also helped to protect critical watersheds, supported local governments to cope with rapidly growing water demand in cities, and delivered essential hygiene items and personal protective equipment to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
In South Africa, Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA), is rolling out its Coke Ville groundwater harvesting project in remote water-scarce communities with limited economic opportunities. Off-grid, solar-powered water treatment plants are constructed, providing communities with reliable access to water.
“CCBSA recognises the water challenges that are faced in the country and installed a groundwater harvesting project in the community of Tshikota Village, in Vhembe, Limpopo. Additional viable self-sustaining groundwater projects are planned for deployment in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. To date, 20-million litres of water have been accessed by indigent rural communities through this initiative, and the target is to deliver more than 4000-million litres a year through all our water projects,” says CCBSA MD Velaphi Ratshefola.
The experience of developing and implementing RAIN resulted in important learnings that helped to improve its effectiveness, said Vermeulen.
“We realised the importance of accelerating integrated water resources management efforts to decrease stress on food production, water supply and sanitation services. Source protection for priority watersheds that serve the drinking water needs of millions of Africans is another critical factor.
“Addressing the gender gap and focusing on the needs of women was another major element because they play a critical role in community resilience and are uniquely empowered by access to hygiene and sanitation services.
“Africa is also more vulnerable to climate change than any other region and water resilience and conservation are essential to ensure African economies can continue to grow sustainably, along with businesses like ours.
“CCBA is committed to working with communities and governments to enhance climate change adaptation and help address the challenges that urbanisation creates for the delivery of clean water and sanitation throughout the continent,” Vermeulen said.