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Coke Ville groundwater harvesting project in Limpopo. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA
Coke Ville groundwater harvesting project in Limpopo. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA

Coca-Cola is focusing on addressing water scarcity through its water stewardship initiatives, highlighting the value of water and the need to protect and conserve it.

These initiatives include improving its overall water-use efficiency in its manufacturing plants and supply chain; partnering with the government and communities to assess, understand and drive effective, long-term water stress solutions; and replenishing the water it uses back to communities and nature.

The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (Rain) focuses on replenishing water it uses in the making of its beverages in key watersheds by clearing alien invasive plants. These consume millions of litres of water each year, resulting in water shortages and permanent loss to an already stressed water system. 

Since 2019, Rain has worked with partners such as The Nature Conservancy, World Wide Fund for Nature-SA, Living Lands and the Endangered Wildlife Trust to clear 3,400 hectares in SA’s priority catchment areas, helping to replenish more than an estimated 15-billion litres of water into nature over the next decade. The programme also provided employment and skills training for 389 women and young people in SA’s rural areas.  

The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative in Wolseley with Gallinise Meyer. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA
The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative in Wolseley with Gallinise Meyer. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA

“Access to water is inextricably linked to the economic empowerment of people,” says Phillipine Mtikitiki, vice-president of the SA franchise at Coca-Cola Africa. “Water is a valuable natural resource which requires all our commitment and collective actions to be managed effectively.”  

Local bottling partner, Coca-Cola Beverages SA (CCBSA), is rolling out its Coke Ville groundwater harvesting project in water-scarce remote communities with limited economic opportunities. Off-grid, solar-powered water treatment plants are constructed, providing communities with reliable access to water. 

“CCBSA realises the water challenges that are faced in the country and has already installed a groundwater harvesting project in the community of Tshikota, 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 has been accessed by indigent rural communities through this initiative, and the target is to deliver more than 60-million litres a year,” says CCBSA MD Velaphi Ratshefola. 

Relief water also plays an important part of humanitarian operations to help drought-stricken communities.

Since the beginning of the year, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB) has been working with local municipalities in water-stressed regions in the Northern and Western Cape, leading relief water operations to assist communities.  

“This has been a lifeline for people in these affected communities,” says CCPB MD Andre Cloete. 

Relief water in the Northern Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA
Relief water in the Northern Cape. Picture: SUPPLIED/COCA-COLA

Expanding on its efforts in the Namakwa and Kakamas district in the Northern Cape, CCPB is now working to provide water relief to Merweville, Laingsburg and Touws River. 

“CCPB is committed to playing its part in supporting the hydration needs in local communities where access to drinking water is limited and has, over the past two years, responded to calls for assistance in water-stressed areas.”

CCPB has delivered more than three-million litres of water using the tankers it invested in during the drought to provide specially produced relief water in 1-litre bottles. 

There is increasing recognition that partnerships between the  government, the private sector, NGOs and communities are needed to improve reliable access to safe water and to protect water resources in a world affected by climate change. By adopting a water stewardship approach, which goes beyond water efficiency practices, Coca-Cola in SA is helping to lead collective action to address water scarcity across the country.

Says Mtikitiki: “We’re confident that through our water stewardship efforts we will continue to make a difference and protect this most valuable resource.”

This article was paid for by Coca-Cola SA.

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