How Nestlé is increasing access to safe water in Central and West Africa

Mar 22, 2019

 

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Nestlé is engaging with communities around its factory operations to help people lead healthier lives by providing free access to clean drinking water and better sanitation, as part of its commitment to raise awareness on water conservation and improve access to water and sanitation across its value chain .

The company believes access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a basic human right, which helps to reduce mortality and morbidity rates, strengthen community resilience and support personal dignity.

In Central and West Africa (CWA), Nestlé is working with its partners to improve the lives of people across the region by building and repairing damaged water points, raising awareness of the importance of safe water to schoolchildren and teachers, and endorsing best water management practices, as part of its contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation .

“Free access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is a basic human right,” said Rémy Ejel, Market Head for Nestlé CWA Ltd. “Together with our partners, we aim to make a real contribution to society by helping more people gain access to them,” he added.

The company’s efforts aim to highlight the importance of World Water Day 2019 , supporting this year’s theme of ‘Leaving no one behind’.

Partnering for safe water

Over 2,000 people in the Ayensunao district in the Eastern region of Ghana are now benefiting from safe drinking water after Nestlé teamed up with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to built three new boreholes.

Clean water is available to children in two local schools where two of the boreholes were constructed. Five water points have also been repaired in the community to reach more people in the nearby villages.

“Water is scarce in this community,” said mother-of-four Grace Owu. “We have to walk miles to get access to water. Sometimes the children have to walk in the morning with their sponge and towel to wash, and fetch some water for household chores. Because of the distance to the riverside, they end up late for school and miss the early morning lessons.

“Some of the children also swim in the ‘ayesu’, a river in the community that is infected with diseases, such as bilharzia. Thanks to Nestlé and the IFRC, we now have boreholes in the community that make it easier for us and our children to get clean water on a daily basis,” added the 48-year-old baker.

Nestlé began working with the IFRC in 2002 to improve access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in rural communities in Côte d’Ivoire. The partnership has helped to build thousands of community and school latrines, construct hydraulic pumps and educate thousands of children on good hygiene practices.

Since 2015, Nestlé and the IFRC extended its partnership to Ghana. The project has helped to improve access to sustainable WASH services for over 17,000 people in the rural Ashanti and Eastern regions by providing over 40 water points and 110 toilets.

“We have been relying greatly on surface water which dries up during the Harmattan season,” explained 34-year-old Ghanaian farmer Eric Awuku. “This makes life difficult in this community for both young and old.

“Thankfully, Nestlé and the IFRC have come to our aid with clean water points. Children are now able to leave home early for school as they don’t have to travel miles to fetch water for the house,” the dad-of-four added.

Reaching more communities worldwide by 2030

Nestlé also supports the IFRC's Global Water and Sanitation Initiative, which aims to reach 30 million people across the globe by 2030.

The company looks to provide 600,000 local communities with free access to water, sanitation or hygiene projects around its production sites and main agricultural supply chains by 2020.

Providing free clean drinking water to communities

Neighbouring communities near Banendale, Bonaberi in Cameroon now have free access to safe water after a borehole was built at Nestlé’s factory in 2012. Today, about 40 people a day visit the borehole to collect clean water – having had no access to safe drinking water previously.

Earlier this year, three new fountains were also built at the Abaji factory in Nigeria providing clean water to thousands of people in surrounding communities.

In addition, four fountains were built at the Flowergate factory; with four more just been inaugurated on the occasion of this international day.

In Senegal, about 2,000 local people also have access to clean drinking water from a water point at Nestlé’s Dakar factory.

Raising awareness on the importance of water access

In Nigeria, Nestlé looks to raise awareness on the importance of water access, support early water education and promote good hygiene by engaging with about 50 schoolchildren and their teachers at its Agbara factory during this year’s World Water Day.

Nestlé Waters has also trained teachers and schoolchildren on water preservation and conservation through Project WET, benefiting over 8,000 students and 420 teachers in 140 schools across the country.

Alliance for Water Stewardship certification

Nestlé Waters Nigeria is committed to achieve the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) certification by 2020 to benchmark its operations with global water stewardship best practices – five years ahead of the company’s goal to have all of its sites AWS certified.

So far, it has engaged with the community through a number of programmes, raised awareness of local water use and helped to provide local residents with clean drinking water.

As part of the NW Nigeria’s water management strategy, groundwater assessments will take place every five years in its catchment areas to understand the impact of water abstraction and identify potential contaminants.