Beyond 2015: Acknowledge the progress, focus on the future

Two-year-old Ismael Adam sips water from a bowl held by his kin, Kariya Mohamed Abbakar who he lives with at the Abu Shouk camp for internally displaced persons in North Darfur, Sudan. They have to walk a long distance to get water from the nearest water point in the camp. Women around the world collectively spend 200 million hours just fetching water. Photo by: Albert Gonzalez Farran / United Nations / CC BY-NC-ND

Every day in rural Africa, mostly women and children walk for hours to retrieve water for their families’ needs.

In fact, women around the world collectively spend 200 million hours collecting water. In many cases, this time-consuming activity makes children late for school and prohibits women from maintaining employment and other productive activities. What’s even worse is that the water collected is often dirty and exposes families to waterborne diseases.

My guess is your experience with water this morning was quite different — as was mine.

Despite meeting the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing by half the proportion of people without access to improved water sources, nearly 800 million lack access to improved water sources, many more lack access to sustained supplies of safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people are without improved sanitation facilities. Coca-Cola recognizes that these basic necessities lead to advancements toward healthy and productive communities, and it’s why we remain committed to helping improve safe water and sanitation access.

And we can’t do it alone. Partnerships across what we call the “golden triangle” — business, civil society and government — are critical in making real and positive impact.

With more than 300 million people in Africa without access to safe water, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative has collaborated with more than 140 partners to provide 2 million people with safe water access by the end of 2015. In August, we announced the expansion of RAIN through 2020 to support safe water access and sanitation programs for 4 million people across the continent.

Through the RAIN program expansion, TCCAF and its public and private partners will work to improve sustainable safe water access for 6 million Africans; economically empower up to 250,000 women and youth; promote health and hygiene in thousands of communities, schools and health centers; and return up to 18.5 billion liters of water to nature and communities.

In Eurasia and Africa, through Every Drop Matters we are helping nations achieve MDG targets by meeting challenges related to water supply, sanitation, water resources management and climate change. EDM is a long-standing partnership between Coca-Cola and the U.N. Development Program. Our system has joined UNDP in undertaking more than 100 projects in at least 20 countries. To date, EDM has directly benefited more than 900,000 people in Eastern Europe by improving access to safe drinking water or improved water governance.

RAIN and EDM both support Coca-Cola’s water stewardship goal to replenish the water we use in our beverages and their production by 2020. We do this by returning the water used in our finished beverages back to communities and nature through the support of healthy watersheds and community water programs. Since 2005, we have engaged in 509 projects in more than 100 countries with partners such as WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Water for People, U.N. Habitat and UNDP. Through these projects, our company and bottling partners replenished 108.5 billion liters of water back to communities and nature in 2013 — that’s 68 percent of our production volume.

Although we’re making progress, we know there is much more to do.

Coca-Cola plans to stay strongly engaged in the post-2015 development agenda process and will continue to work to bridge gaps and identify solutions to benefit people and our planet. Until safe water and sanitation access are no longer a global concern, they will remain ours.

Aug. 18, 2014, marked the 500-day milestone until the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Join Devex, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, to raise awareness of the progress made through the MDGs and to rally to continue the momentum. Check out our Storify page and tweet us using #MDGmomentum.

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About the author

  • Bea perez devex

    Bea Perez

    Bea Perez is chief sustainability officer of the Coca-Cola Co. She is accountable for driving a global sustainability strategy focused on enhancing personal well-being, building strong communities and protecting the environment. Bea started at Coca-Cola as an associate brand manager in 1996 and was the North American chief marketing officer.