Providing communities with access to safe water towards better health and sanitation has always been a commitment of Coca-Cola. With its varied important uses for personal hygiene, hydration, cleaning, and food preparation, the Company champions the belief that a reliable source of safe water is truly a basic human right. This key knowledge fuels its water sustainability initiatives.
It is evident not just in Coca-Cola’s responsible and efficient use of water in its operations but also through its Agos Program. Coca-Cola Philippines is committed to providing safe water access to water-stressed communities, schools, and public places and supporting water for agriculture of small farmers, as well as the rehabilitation of our watershed to ensure that safe water continues to flow in the communities where they operate.
In the recent celebration of Global Handwashing Day—which aims to increase awareness on the importance of hand hygiene—and its timely theme “Hand Hygiene for All,” Coca-Cola Philippines together with different local government units and non-profit organizations took the opportunity to bring this unwavering commitment, which has become ever more significant during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Hand hygiene during a pandemic
As regular handwashing with soap has been identified as one of the most effective means of preventing the spread of the virus, Coca-Cola Philippines together with the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines through the Agos programs, and in partnership with the Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), facilitated the installation of handwashing facilities in Tagbilaran and Cagayan de Oro.
“Water sustainability has been a core focus of the Company ever since,” said Jonah De Lumen-Pernia, Coca-Cola Philippines Public Affairs and Sustainability Director. “And we all know that in this pandemic, access to water has become even more important given its role in hygiene and sanitation.”
Eight public areas in Tagbilaran City will be installed with handwashing stations, including a seaport, fish port, bus terminal, public market, and community parks, with the support of Mayor John Geesnell Yap and the Bohol Integrated Development Foundation (BIDEF). Meanwhile, 21 public areas in Cagayan de Oro City including a public market and health centers will now have handwashing stations with the support of Mayor Oscar Moreno and the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI).
USAID Mission Director Lawrence Hardy II agrees that the need to address hand hygiene is made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As we continue our work to beat the virus, we are reminded that handwashing is among the simplest and most effective ways to protect ourselves and our communities,” he said.
Clean water for health and sanitation in more communities
Aside from Coca-Cola’s long-term partnership with USAID especially in the implementation of its water projects, the Company has been implementing water leadership projects across the country with various strategic partners, aiding in the supply of clean water to communities.
Among them are the provision of 126 handwashing stations nationwide through the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines; the upgrading of school water systems in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) so that the students and teachers are assured of clean and adequate water for drinking, handwashing, and sanitation; providing 600 new households with water connections in Cavite and Cebu together with Water and Life Philippines; and water projects in 15 communities in Mindanao through a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).
Since 2011, the Company has provided safe water access to over nearly 200 underserved communities, and water for irrigation to 19 small farmers with partners like Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. (AIDFI), Peace and Equity Foundation (PEF), and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), among others.
Apart from clean water supply in underserved communities, the Company’s Agos program also supports the rehabilitation of watersheds in the Philippines and the education of communities on the importance of conservation in order to ensure that water continues to flow for life.
“Through our different projects on water stewardship and watershed protection, Coca-Cola has been able to return every single drop of water that we use back to the environment and to the communities,” De Lumen-Pernia said.
With water stewardship deeply ingrained in the Company’s DNA, Coca-Cola Philippines has replenished an estimated 112 percent of the water used in the production of beverages last year.
De Lumen-Pernia stressed that the various partnerships with like-minded organizations such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Water and Life Philippines, Philippine Business and Social Progress (PBSP), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and local governments have enabled Coca-Cola to do more for the most vulnerable communities around the country.
With these initiatives, Coca-Cola highlights the importance of bringing in key partners and actively engaging with stakeholders—where everyone can do their part in helping provide safe water for a healthier and better quality of life for more communities, thus far benefiting over 223,000 Filipinos.
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