The Coca-Cola Foundation's Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is funding five projects in South Africa to help restore priority water catchment areas by removing invasive alien plants, while creating valuable employment opportunities for women, youth and families.
“These important water catchment areas feed our communities, towns and cities, yet thirsty alien invasive plants are consuming millions of litres of this precious resource unnecessarily from these areas each year.
“As part of our broader water stewardship programme, RAIN is helping to rehabilitate thousands of hectares of land and replenish water while economically empowering families,” comments Coca-Cola Foundation chairperson and president Beatriz Perez.
The five projects received $1.25-million in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation in 2019 and have collectively cleared 3 400 ha of invasive alien plant species, which will help replenish an estimated 1.5-billion litres a year for the next ten years.
Most of the strategic water sources are located in remote areas, with limited economic or skills development opportunities.
In addition to the environmental benefits these projects bring, they also focus on creating jobs, upskilling individuals, and providing support and training for sustainable economic opportunities.
Collectively, these projects created 389 jobs in South Africa’s rural, priority catchment areas, states the foundation.
The five projects are spread across South Africa and focus on involving local communities, while addressing water security on a larger scale.
Implementing partners provide development expertise and additional resources required to implement the projects sustainably, says the foundation.
Working with The Nature Conservancy, RAIN has cleared more than 2 500 ha of alien plant species on the upper slopes of the Wemmershoek dam catchment, serving the greater Cape Town area. The project created 202 jobs, specifically empowering 62 women and youth.
The uMzimvubu watershed restoration project, in Matatiele, in the Eastern Cape, has resulted in the clearing of 115 ha of invasive alien plants. The project was implemented in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature-South Africa (WWF-SA) and created 60 jobs, empowering 32 women and 39 youth.
Additionally, this project protected five natural springs, improving the community’s access to spring water.
Working with local traditional authorities, livestock management was improved and grazing rotations were established, economically empowering 437 people through grazing association memberships and access to cattle auctions.
The Wolseley wetlands restoration project in the greater Cape Town area was also implemented in partnership with the WWF-SA. The project resulted in the clearing of 470 ha of invasive alien plant species from a critical biodiverse wetlands area in the Upper Breede River Valley in this important agricultural region. It created 94 jobs, empowering 42 women and 39 youth.
The Algoa Water Fund, in the Eastern Cape is a project implemented in partnership with Living Lands. The project cleared 260 ha invasive alien plant species from the Impofu dam, a key upstream catchment area for the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality.
Additionally, the team worked with local landowners to create a cohesive and collaborative long-term catchment management plan for the area.
This project created 21 jobs in an extreme rural area with high rates of unemployment.
Lastly, in the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, RAIN worked with the Endangered Wildlife Trust to clear 32 ha of alien plant species. The project created 12 jobs, empowering five women and youth.
In addition, the project team also worked with local landowners on the proclamation of the western Soutpansberg Nature Reserve to protect 4 000 ha under improved conservation management with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism’s Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.
A further $500 000 from the Coca-Cola Foundation will be invested for an additional 12 months for three of these projects – the Greater Cape Town Water Fund, in Atlantis; Matatiele, in the Eastern Cape; and the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo.
Across Africa, The Replenish Africa Initiative is on track to positively impact more than 6 million people through a diverse range of water-based initiatives by the end of 2020. Over the past decade, RAIN has positively impacted at least 250 000 women and youth and returned 18.5bn litres to communities and nature through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes as well as watershed protection.
As climate change disrupts the water system, affecting drinking water supplies, sanitation, food and energy production, The Coca-Cola Foundation and its local implementing partners are collaborating to facilitate strategic investments in South Africa’s key watersheds. These efforts will pay dividends with the optimisation of the country’s water supply into the future.
“As Coca-Cola, we believe that the most effective work happens when there is collaboration across the public and private sectors for the benefit of the local communities,” concludes Perez.
About The Coca-Cola Foundation
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, TCCF has awarded more than $900 million in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. More information about TCCF can be found here.
About the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)
In response to the severe water challenges faced by nearly 300 million Africans living without access to clean water, Coca-Cola introduced RAIN in 2009. RAIN is Coca-Cola’s contribution to helping Africa achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access. To date, RAIN has reached more than 2.8 million people with improved water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across 41 countries. By the end of 2020, RAIN aims to measurably improve the lives of at least six (6) million people in Africa through sustainable WASH interventions.
About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org/africa or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
About The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa
For nearly 60 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in over 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature. For more information, visit https://www.worldwildlife.org
About Living Lands
Living Lands is a not-for-profit organization for conserving and restoring living landscapes. A living landscape consists of a variety of healthy ecosystems and land uses, and is home to ecological, agricultural, and social systems which are managed so as to function sustainably. This ensures that natural and cultural resources are available for future generations and that the system is resilient for adaptation to climate change. To learn more, visit www.livinglands.co.za
About The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. It is a beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together. To learn more, visit www.ewt.org.za