BY DAYO ADESULU
Water security is critical to building resilient communities and economic empowerment across Africa. As part of its week-long celebration of World Water Day (March 22), The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) announced the achievement of the Replenish Africa Initiative’s (RAIN) current goal to improve access to clean water for 6 million people.
RAIN, launched in 2009, is TCCF’s flagship clean water program in Africa contributing to helping countries across the continent achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6). Today’s 6 million person achievement is the result of a collective effort from over 300 international and local public, private and civil society partners. As part of the celebrations for World Water Day 2021, RAIN partners gathered virtually today for a panel discussion to mark the achievement of the program and share best practices for replication from the program.
“RAIN is a testament to the power of collective action,” said Bea Perez, Chair and President, The Coca-Cola Foundation. “Working with our partners, RAIN’s transformative impact can be felt today in 4,000 African communities. This program drives impact for the Sustainable Development Goals and our focus on People, Communities, and the Environment.”
Over the course of the past decade, RAIN has improved access to clean water for communities, schools, and clinics across 41 African countries as well as enhanced access to hygiene and promoted better hygiene behaviours. The program has also enabled the economic empowerment of people by creating opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and skills generation. In addition, RAIN has helped to protect critical watersheds, supported several African utilities in coping with the rapidly growing water demand in cities, and delivered essential hygiene items and personal protective equipment to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
RAIN has developed a number of important learnings and recommendations, including:
- Emphasize partnerships with urban and peri-urban utilities to help increase their capacity to better serve Africa’s expanding urban environments;
- Accelerate integrated water resources management efforts to decrease stress on food production, water supply and sanitation services;
- Enhance source protection for priority watersheds that serve the drinking water needs of millions of Africans;
- Address the gender gap and focusing on the needs of women who play a critical role in community resilience and are uniquely empowered by WASH access;
- Improve the collection, accessibility, sharing and use of data to monitor WASH services, improve performance, planning and decision making;
- Support civil society and communities to help build resilience to water-related climate change impacts.
“Africa is experiencing the highest rate of urban growth globally and is home to 21 of the world’s 30 fastest-growing cities,” said Bruno Pietracci, President for The Coca-Cola Company’s Africa operating unit. “Africa is also more vulnerable to climate change than any other region. The Coca-Cola Foundation is committed to working with communities and governments to enhance climate change adaptation and help address the challenges that urbanization creates for the delivery of clean water and sanitation throughout the continent.”