Today is a day where I feel a sense of pride. Why? Because today, I had the pleasure of announcing the expansion of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation’s (TCCAF) Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu, Korea. TCCAF is pledging an additional US $35 million to support Pan-African safe water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs for 4 million people by 2020. That will bring the total number of RAIN beneficiaries to 6 million through an investment of US $65 million by 2020.
Having traveled the world and witnessed the transformation safe water access can begin, it’s moments like these that make me feel fortunate to lead part of a company that champions solutions to global water challenges. RAIN also holds a special place in my heart as I led Coca-Cola’s Eurasia and Africa group when we launched the program in 2009 at the 5th World Water Forum in my hometown of Istanbul.
I am also proud to share that this year we will meet RAIN’s initial goal to bring safe water access to 2 million people across the continent by end of 2015. An accomplishment that we share with our more than 140 partners, including Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). Our ability to work together has empowered 2,000 communities through WASH programs in 37 African countries – helping lift people out of poverty and giving African communities more opportunity for prosperity and progress in the years to come.
In addition to improving safe water access for 6 million Africans, RAIN partners aim to 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.
Access to safe water remains a luxury to millions of people in Africa. As one of the continent’s largest employers, we have a responsibility and opportunity to institute programs that can positively impact Africa’s acute water situation.
Global water challenges aren’t going to fix themselves. And the world’s water scarcity issues are dire. Solutions require action and multi-sector collaboration. RAIN is a model example of how more can be accomplished working together. We must all strive to respect water and people, and also the power of partnership.
Until development barriers are no longer a global concern, they will remain ours.
Ahmet Bozer is the Executive Vice-President and President of Coca-Cola International, Atlanta.
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