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Coca-Cola, partners rehabilitate 11 500 ha in water catchment areas

7th April 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Coca-Cola South Africa, along with its partners, has collectively rehabilitated and improved land management practices across more than 11 500 ha as it reaffirms its commitment to conserving water.

Through its Replenish Africa Initiative, the Coca-Cola Foundation invested $65-million to provide access for six-million people in more than 4 000 communities across 41 countries to clean water and sanitation, productive use of water and watershed protection.

In South Africa, the foundation invested in four new projects in 2022 to remove “thirsty” invasive alien plants from critical water catchment areas feeding major cities and towns across the country.

“Water is essential to every person and every ecosystem in the world. It is also essential to the products we make and the agricultural ingredients we use. For this reason and others, Coca-Cola has committed to replenishing every drop of water we use back to the environment as part of the company’s 2030 Water Security Strategy,” says Coca-Cola South Africa public affairs, communications and sustainability director Babongile Mandela.

“South Africa’s current water circumstances have, in recent months, come under scrutiny. For South Africa, securing long-term water sanitation solutions and replenishing the water we use back to communities and nature is intricately linked with the country’s social and economic prosperity.”

So far, the Coca-Cola Foundation has committed $989 571 in grant funding to return litres to nature by rehabilitating degraded landscapes, removing invasive alien plants and supporting local communities to improve their land management practices.

The rehabilitation activities range from reducing soil erosion on mountain slopes and improving grazing practices, to cutting down invasive alien plants, tailored to the local context and circumstances of the landscape.

The projects have provided more than 155 jobs, with 82 and 35 occupied by women and youth respectively.

In addition to employment, the beneficiaries also receive skills training in veld and fire management, first aid, chainsaw use and herbicide application, besides others, to improve their future employability in the green economy.

The Coca-Cola Foundation highlights a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature South Africa in the Enkangala Drakensberg area of Mpumalanga, which supports the Integrated Vaal River System serving Gauteng by investing in improved land management upstream and will expand the existing protected area network in the Enkangala Drakensberg Strategic Water Source Area.

The project will be accompanied by improved land management practices across 12 000 ha in collaboration with two local community property associations in Wakkerstroom and Donkerhoek.

Coca-Cola’s bottling partners are also committed to water restoration enterprises.

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa initiated Coke Ville, which delivers an innovative off-grid solar-powered groundwater harvesting system that pumps, treats, stores and distributes clean water.

Coke Ville launched in 2020 with three systems in Limpopo, expanding to a total of 32 sites across the country, including in Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Each project is designed to provide these communities with 10-million to 20-million litres of water a year. To date, over 400-million litres have been distributed to over 25 000 households throughout the country.

Similarly, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages focuses on water conservation in its daily operation and has, over the past 11 years, reduced its water use by 50%.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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