The PepsiCo Foundation has partnered with WaterAid, a leading NGO, to bring safe water to families in sub-Saharan Africa through their recently launched $1 million programme. This is an expansion of its 15-year, more than $53million safe water access initiative that has helped more than 59 million people since 2006.
The programme, which will run through the philanthropic arm of food and beverage company PepsiCo, comes at a critical time as the COVID-19 Delta variant threatens water-stressed communities that have little access to adequate hygiene and sanitation.
This new investment aims to help improve water infrastructure, build new water supply systems and appropriate sanitation facilities, and promote hygiene education. It will also empower women and girls to become water, sanitation and hygiene stewards in their communities by providing them with the funding and training to maintain water access points and sanitation facilities for years to come.
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Waste water works infrastructure upgrades in South Africa
Bridgitte Backman, PepsiCo’s vice-president of corporate affairs for SSA, said: “Today, water is scarce in many parts of the world – impacting both people and nature. There is no resource more precious to human life and the health of our global ecosystems and economies than water. Making sure that people have access to this vital human right is our top priority to restore essential health, well-being, dignity and economic mobility.”
In November last year, the Foundation announced its inaugural investment in sub-Saharan Africa. This was a six million rand grant to fund water access and sanitation projects to South Africa. This funding was distributed to four different projects in partnership with NPO organisations.
“We are committed to engaging in diverse, locally focused community water projects in SSA. Each project works towards set objectives such as providing or improving access to safe water and sanitation, protecting watersheds, supporting water conservation, and raising awareness on critical local water issues. We are focused on SDG 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation” as one of our foundational SDGs within our corporate citizenship approach for PepsiCo SSA”, says Backman.
PepsiCo commits to being net water positive by 2030
PepsiCo recently announced its ambition to become Net Water Positive by 2030 aiming to replenish more water than the company uses. This commitment would place the company among the most water-efficient manufacturers operating in high-risk watersheds.
As a food and beverage company, PepsiCo understands the critical role water plays in the food system – which is why the company launched its Net Water Positive initiative to deliver safe water access to 100 million people by 2030.
In partnership with the National Business Initiative (NBI), foot-operated handwashing units have been installed in the Eastern Cape. These units are located in schools, taxi ranks, clinics, pension pay points, informal settlements and other high-traffic areas.
The partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) focuses on improved water access and hygiene practices for rural villages in Matatiele in the northern part of the Eastern Cape, with a key component being the rehabilitation of natural springs.
The project together with Save our Schools (SOS) focuses on the installation of handwashing stations across the Loekombos and Wallacedene informal communities which support 100,000 residents.
Finally, the partnership with the Water Research Commission (WRC) involves replacing pit latrines with low/pour-flush toilets and providing a sanitation solution where none currently exist in areas across Limpopo. These provide the sanitary benefits of flush toilets while using just one to two litres of water per flush, restoring health and dignity to members of the community.
By supporting these NPO’s, PepsiCo aims to create greater societal impact by increasing access to clean and safe sanitation for everyone in South Africa especially in areas that would otherwise not benefit from such initiatives. These four projects will contribute to the 2025 goals, with the immediate focus on supporting water distribution, sanitation, and hygiene practices.
Bold new goals will guide tangible operational action towards PepsiCo’s Net Water Positive ambition to reduce absolute water use and replenish back into the local watershed more than 100% of the water used at company-owned and third-party sites in high-water-risk areas.
“PepsiCo is deeply committed to being a positive force in all the communities in which we operate. We want to tackle issues of global and local importance and collaborate with local communities to ensure basic livelihoods and needs are met”, concludes Backman.
PepsiCo also aims to adopt the Alliance for Water Stewardship Standard in all high-water-risk areas where it operates by 2025. Its snack production facility in Parow, Western Cape was among the pilot group of sites to adopt this AWS standard.