The World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF Africa), The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF), Diageo Plc, WaterHealth International (WHI), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, have announced a strategic partnership to provide sustainable access to safe drinking water in Africa.
Dubbed: “Safe Water for Africa (SWA),” the partnership will work with communities in Africa to drive the expansion of WHI’s innovative water service delivery model across the continent.
A statement issued in Accra on Saturday said TCCAF, Diageo, and WHI had committed over USD$6 million in seed funding to deliver sustainable safe water access for communities across Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia in 2011, with new country programmes expected in 2012 and beyond.
It said building on this core investment, SWA plans to raise a total of over USD$20 million to fulfill its ambition of providing safe water to at least two 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.
The statement said despite repeated efforts by governments and other organizations to ease the water issues in the region, fewer West Africans today have access to water more 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 and that WHI already installs, operates, and maintains decentralized water treatment facilities – WaterHealth Centres – throughout the developing world.
The statement explained that WaterHealth Centres are small modular structures that house water purification equipment to treat locally available water through a combination of sedimentation, pre-filtration, and Ultra Violet technology.
Each centre 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.
It further said WHI had a sustainable business model under which it constructs a WaterHealth Centre, provides long-term (10 year+) operations, maintenance and quality services to vulnerable communities for a low cost one-time investment.
The statement noted that the programme had won the backing of the World Bank, International Financial Corporation and other respected organizations.
The WHI, it said, 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, the statement said, these WaterHealth Centres would become the reliable source for WHO quality water for these communities.
It said SWA’s partners would work together on an ongoing basis to provide financing and coordinated in-country support to expand WHI’s innovative service-delivery throughout Africa.
“Easy access to safe drinking water is critical for the economic development of Africa. The Diageo “Water of Life” programme aims to bring water to one million additional people in vulnerable communities across Africa every year and this innovative SWA partnership complements our existing “Water or Life” initiatives.
“SWA brings together leaders in the private sector, who shares a common commitment in making a meaningful contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” said Mr Nick Blazquez, President, Diageo Africa who was quoted in the statement.
William Asiko, President of TCCAF also said, “Africa’s resilience draws strength from the continent’s entrepreneurs. As one of the largest employers in Africa, we understand the promise of Africa’s people and seek out opportunities to foster their economic opportunities”
He said: “Through partnerships like SWA, which unlocks the power of entrepreneurs, we can more effectively support communities in need of safe water access targeted by our Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN).
“Sustainability and quality are the basis of the WaterHealth model. By working with governments, communities and civil society, we can provide those without access to safe water, our customers, a lasting and affordable supply of safe water.
“We look forward to collaborating with SWA’s donors and other water sector participants to address Africa’s water crisis and we hope that the WHI model will provide a template for a scalable, sustainable solution for safe water in Africa,” said Sanjay Bhatnagar, Chief Executive Officer of WHI.
The SWA partnership is 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.
“IFC is actively supporting the expansion of the WHI model, which will leverage global and regional investment to help to alleviate water challenges in Africa,” said Thierry Tanoh, IFC Vice President, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe.
“Our collaboration with WHI in India demonstrates that this model can serve thousands of consumers with quality, affordable water,” he added.
The TCCAF and Diageo plc join SWA through their significant, long-term commitments to assist African communities in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on water and sanitation.
Both TCCAF’s Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) and Diageo’s Water of Life programme partner with communities throughout Africa to provide sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions.