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Coca-Cola replenishing water supply in South Africa

The Coca-Cola Foundation’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is set to replenish 15 billion litres of water over the next decade.

With the effects of climate change including prolonged droughts, extreme weather and higher temperatures already being felt across South Africa, the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is helping to ensure billions of litres of water is returned to communities and replenished in nature for the next decade.

Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, RAIN funds five projects in South Africa to help restore priority catchment areas by removing invasive alien plants, while creating employment opportunities for women, youth and families by supporting water-related projects.

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Beatriz R. Perez, Coca-Cola Foundation chair and president: “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.”

The projects received $1.25million in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation in 2019 and have collectively cleared 3,400 hectares of invasive alien plant species, to help replenish an estimated 1,5 billion litres annually for the next 10 years.

Most of these strategic water sources are located in remote areas, with limited economic or skills development opportunities. In addition to environmental benefits, the projects also create jobs, upskill individuals, and provide support and training for sustainable economic opportunities. Collectively, these projects created 389 jobs in South Africa’s rural, priority catchment areas.

The five projects 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.

Five implementing projects in South Africa’s RAIN chapter

Wemmershoek Dam
Working with The Nature Conservancy, this project cleared over 2,500 hectares on the upper slopes of the Wemmershoek Dam catchment, creating 202 jobs, specifically empowering 62 women and youth.

uMzimvubu Watershed Restoration, Matatiele
Working with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa, this project cleared 115 hectares of invasive alien plants 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.

Wolseley Wetlands Restoration
Partnering with WWF South Africa this project cleared invasive alien plant species from a critical biodiverse wetlands area in the Upper Breede River Valley. The project cleared 470 hectares and created 94 jobs, empowering 42 women and 39 youth.

Algoa Water Fund, Diep River
Working with implementing partner Living Lands, this project cleared invasive alien plant species from the Impofu Dam, a key upstream catchment area for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The team worked with local landowners to create a cohesive and collaborative long-term catchment management plan for the area. This project cleared over 260 hectares of invasive alien plants and created 21 jobs in a rural area with high rates of unemployment.

Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo
Working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, this project cleared 32 hectares and created 12 jobs, empowering five women and youth. The team trained 701 local school children on hygiene and water conservation. In addition, the project team also worked with local landowners on the proclamation of the western Soutpansberg Nature Reserve to protect 4,000 hectares under improved conservation management with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism’s Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.

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Optimising South Africa’s future water supply

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,” concluded Perez.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.

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