SOUTH AFRICA – The Coca-Cola foundation is set to launch a US$1.27 million (R18M) water stewardship initiative, Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The initiative is part of the US$35 million funding that the global beverage firm has committed to provide in 41 African countries to enhance availability of and safe water to six million people across the continent.

Through the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), the Coca-Cola Foundation is investing in projects to remove invasive alien plants from five main water catchment areas that feed major cities and towns across the country.

The plants pose a direct threat not only to biological diversity, but also to water security, the ecological functioning of natural systems and the productive use of land.

The projects will support economic empowerment and skills development in rural areas across South Africa.

In total, the projects will seek to clear more than 750 hectares of invasive alien plants and will employ 130 people, focusing on providing training, mentorship and job opportunities for women and youth.

Since the launch in 2009, RAIN has reached more than 1 million people with sustainable clean water access.

The program is focusing on making a strong, lasting community impact while supporting TCCC’s water stewardship goals and helping Africa meet the UN Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation.

The initiative seeks to build sustainable communities, catalysing investment in clean water access, improving water and sanitation access and replenishing more than 2 billion litres of water annually back to communities and nature.

RAIN is tailored to address the specific water issues in target communities by focusing on the productive use of water by promoting efficient and sustainable use of water for economic development

It also seeks to promote water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) which improves access to water and sanitation while at the same time promoting improved hygiene behaviours for positive impacts on health and development.

 Approximately 80% of RAIN projects have WASH components.

The initiative will also focus on watershed protection which establishes sustainable water management practices, improving environmental stewardship and community health.

Through collaborative action with over 140 partners, RAIN is in over 2 750 communities across 41 African countries.

In addition to benefitting 3 million people across Africa, RAIN has economically empowered 23 000 youth and women and replenished nearly 9 billion litres of water to communities and nature annually.