Africa water initiative

Every day, Linda Takyiwaa wakes up early to fetch water before school so she can take a bath and provide water for her family’s daily needs. Doing so sometimes makes her late for school. And she’s not alone.  Many children in Ghana help retrieve their family’s water, which can take several hours. In addition to being late for school, there are safety concerns associated with this chore.

Exacerbating these challenges, the “drinkability” of the water, which comes from hand dug wells, boreholes and even directly from surface streams, has been problematic because it contains germs and bacteria and often the environment surrounding the rivers is not clean. So, the efforts can end up being for naught and often harmful, leading to water-borne diseases—the main cause of morbidity in Nsuta, the district capital where Linda and her family live.

The unfortunate reality is that Linda’s story is one of millions more, which is why The Coca-Cola Company launched its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) and is proud to be the 100th signatory to the WASH Sustainability Charter.

RAIN—Providing Water Access across Africa

In response to Africa’s water challenges and to help provide safe drinking water for families like Linda’s, in 2005, The Coca-Cola Company made a six-year commitment to the Replenish Africa Initiative, the flagship community program of The Coca-Cola Foundation. In partnership with other donors, RAIN aims to provide safe water access to over 2 million people in Africa by 2015. The program supports a range of water-related interventions including water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); productive use of water; and watershed protection.

Specifically, Linda’s community is being assisted by the RAIN program, Safe Water for Africa, an innovative partnership between The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF), Diageo plc, WaterHealth International (WHI) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

WASH Sustainability Charter—Signing to Support Sustainable WASH Services

In 2011, to collaboratively promote the delivery of WASH services that produce high-quality, lasting benefits for consumers, the WASH Sustainability Charter was developed. The Coca-Cola Company recently became the 100th signatory of the Charter, the first Fortune 500 Company to sign.

The Coca-Cola Company is endorsing the Charter, as we support RAIN, because we believe that investments in WASH initiatives will and should span generations.

Through RAIN, we have always looked to develop supply chains, means of communication, and a finance stream for communities to be able to sustain the safe water and sanitation systems we help provide, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the water sector. Signing the Charter strengthens our commitment to enable lasting community ownership and operation of these water access and treatment systems.

“By signing the Sustainability Charter, The Coca-Cola Company is signaling to the entire water community that water investments must last, must truly transform lives, and must be accounted for over time. It is no longer sufficient to only plan for and celebrate the first day that water flows in a community, rather we must plan for water to flow every day; our projects must be sustainable,” said Ned Breslin, CEO, Water For People, contributor to and fellow endorser of the WASH Sustainability Charter. “Because of Coca-Cola’s leadership, other corporations and implementing agencies will be encouraged to follow and respond. As articulated in the Sustainability Charter, philanthropy changes when corporations insist on lasting results and lives truly change when the philanthropic focus shifts from short to long-term results.”

Enabling a Dream through Drink

When Linda sees clean water, she sees more than a drink. She sees her long-time dream of becoming a nurse turning into a reality. Access to clean water means Linda can spend more time in class versus searching and fetching water while also maintaining better health. With the help she has received, in turn, Linda will be able to help others.

To hear Linda’s story, visit Coca-Cola Journey: Safe Water for Africa [video].

Greg Koch is Director of Global Water Stewardship in the Corporate Sustainability Office at The Coca-Cola Company.