The international community is preparing to mark World Water Day on 22 March, during which countries across the globe highlight the importance that freshwater plays in the lives of people including drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), while also advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
Access to clean water, decent sanitation and hygiene remains pivotal for the health and wellbeing of communities, but unfortunately, many of the most vulnerable citizens, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, do not have access to it, which amongst other affects also hampers their ability to combat the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).
The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation (HAF) together with HEINEKEN South Africa has partnered with the international charity WaterAid in its drive to tackle the spread of Covid-19 and other diseases, as well as significantly broaden access to clean water across the continent.
This partnership has resulted in increasing WASH access to approximately 28,000 people. The project includes completed installation of 20 handwashing facilities, the construction of five water storage tanks as well as pipes in the Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni areas in Gauteng, and Vhembe District in Limpopo province. In addition, the procurement and distribution of vital hygiene products such as soap, sanitisers and sanitary products to identified refugee camps across the Gauteng and Limpopo provinces. Hygiene behaviour change educational material to address Covid-19 were also distributed to ensure improved hygiene as a preventative measure against the spread of Covid-19.
“Handwashing with water and soap is the first step in the journey towards effectively combating the spread of Covid-19, however, over 4 million people in South Africa don’t have access to clean water and consequently also nowhere to wash their hands with soap and water, making it easier for diseases to spread. The support of the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation is providing us with vital assistance in terms of our Covid-19 response work,” explains Millicent Maroga, Corporate Affairs Director at HEINEKEN South Africa.
“World Water Day is an important occasion to highlight water issues. Conserving water is one of the six focus areas of our sustainability agenda known as Brewing a Better World. While our water efforts often focus on reducing the water that we use in our breweries, and treating the water we discharge back into the environment amongst others, this partnership between the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation and WaterAid allows us to expand our efforts to supporting the fight against Covid-19 and enable greater access to water through a focus on WASH activities,” says Maroga.
Suzanne Giele, General Manager of the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation adds that, “On this day it is key to highlight that an estimated 790 million* people around the globe do not have access to clean water, even though it is a basic human right. WASH has been on our agenda already for many years but with the pandemic it has become more relevant than ever. We will continue our efforts with WaterAid and we are currently reviewing where additional support is needed over the course of 2021.”