NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 21 – The Coca- Cola Africa Foundation, the corporate giving unit of the soft drinks multinational, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and other partners have launched a Sh1.4 billion water endowment fund dubbed Nairobi Water Fund.
The fund is aimed at promoting conservation and restoration efforts of watersheds. The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has given Sh13.8million towards the fund.
Bob Okello, Public Affairs and Government Relations Manager, Coca- Cola East Africa who spoke on behalf of the foundation indicated that the funds would be used to promote conservation activities in the Upper Tana Basin.
“At Coca-Cola foundation, we believe in investing in water as it is a critical component to sustainable development. We cannot ignore the fact that without adequate water supply, most sectors of the economy such as health, manufacturing, energy and many others will be affected,” Okello said.
“As we mark this year’s World Water Day, this endowment fund will be a critical component to water security and management in this country,” he added.
Kenya is classified by the United Nations as a water scarce country with less than a third of the population accessing an improved water source.
Surprisingly, the country does have the water resources it needs to meet demand, but water quality is poor and drought impacts are amplified by unsustainable land-use practices. As the population grows and farming intensifies, the wetlands that store water are disappearing and sediment runoff is polluting the Upper Tana’s streams, rivers and reservoirs.
This causes water treatment costs for Nairobi Water and Sewerage to increase by more than 33 percent during the wet season due to choking of treatment equipment.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Country Director Munir Bashir called on other corporates to join in the efforts to create the endowment fund, a first by the TNC in Africa.
“We are grateful to the Coca-Cola Africa foundation for its generous contribution. We still need more corporates on board to realise this dream of a water rich country,” he said.
Together with local stakeholders and potential payers, The Nature Conservancy has identified Tana River Basin watersheds to be part of the pilot conservation and restoration efforts. These watersheds include Thika-Chania and Maragua, both critical for Nairobi’s water and power supplies, and the Sagana watershed, which is a substantial source of sediment impairing hydropower generation.
The three priority watersheds cover roughly 850,000 hectares (2.1 million acres) of agricultural land and critical wildlife habitat. They also provide important, but declining, water supply benefits to the agricultural communities that live and work in these watersheds.
The Nature Conservancy has successfully implemented a similar water endowment fund in Ecuador and Colombia.