Water partnership aims to provide safe drinking water access in Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 5, 2011 -- A new strategic partnership between The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, beverage company Diageo, and WaterHealth International has been launched in Africa to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water there...

May 5th, 2011

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 5, 2011 -- A new strategic partnership between The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, beverage company Diageo, and WaterHealth International has been launched in Africa to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water there.

The partnership, 'Safe Water for Africa' (SWA), will work with communities to drive the expansion of WaterHealth International's water service delivery model across the continent. TCCAF, Diageo, and WHI have committed over US$6 million in seed funding to deliver sustainable safe water access for communities across Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia in 2011, with new country programs expected in 2012 and beyond. Building on this core investment, SWA plans to raise a total of over US$20 million to fulfill its ambition of providing safe water to at least 2 million Africans by 2012.

The partnership will initially focus on West Africa, in support of a region with tremendous promise, yet one that continues to face significant water challenges. Despite repeated efforts by governments and other organizations to ease the water issues in the region, fewer West Africans today have access to water than 20 years ago.

The SWA partnership is a private sector-led initiative based on the use of an innovative, but most importantly self-sustaining, model of water provision. WHI already installs, operates, and maintains decentralized water treatment facilities -- WaterHealth Centers -- throughout the developing world. WaterHealth Centers are small modular structures that house water purification equipment to treat locally available water through a combination of sedimentation, pre-filtration, and ultraviolet technology. Each Center produces World Health Organization (WHO) quality water that is available, for a nominal usage fee, on site or pumped to additional distribution points depending on the size and density of the community.

WHI has a sustainable business model under which it constructs a WaterHealth Center and provides long-term (10 year+) operations, maintenance and quality services to vulnerable communities for a low cost one-time investment. The program has won the backing of the World Bank, International Financial Corporation and other respected organizations.

The company works in partnership with communities to determine the appropriate, affordable, usage fees for the water purification service, allowing community members to directly access safe water from the facility at a minimal cost. Over time, the increased adoption of the service is able to cover the cost of the operation and maintenance of the facility, allowing it to become sustainable. By providing ongoing operations, maintenance support and regular water quality monitoring for a period of at least 10 years, these WaterHealth Centers will become the reliable source for WHO quality water for these communities.

SWA's partners will work together on an ongoing basis to provide financing and coordinated in-country support to expand WHI's innovative service-delivery throughout Africa. The partnership is also working with leading water sector donors and one of WHI's key shareholders and lenders, the International Finance Corporation, to raise additional funding to provide African communities with safe drinking water.

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