The water needs of communities along the Tano River Basin received a boost as the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and the United States Government yesterday launched a 500,000 dollar initiative to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation services in the area.
The project dubbed: 'Transboundary Community Water Management Alliance,' located at the Tano River Basin border area between Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, would support the sustainable use and management of the River Basin, and contribute good relations between both neighbouring countries through communication on sustainable water resource management.
The US-based non-governmental organisations CARE International have the responsibility of implementing the three-year initiative. The project, which was initiated in November 2007, has made significant strides on both sides of the border, with the completion of community water action plans, formation and training of water and sanitation committees and the establishment of community nurseries.
The programme is expected to promote efficient and sustainable productive use of water to protect the environment and to provide economic benefits to communities in the basin. It would also increase access to community water supply and sanitation services, as well as foster improved behaviours in sanitation and hygiene for positive health impacts.
In the coming months, the initiative would see the construction of boreholes and latrine blocks, and the education of local communities on the maintenance of the facilities, as well as fostering co-operation between Ghanaian and Ivorian water management bodies on the sustainable use of the shared waters.
At a signing ceremony at the US Embassy in Accra, Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms Sue Brown, commended the Coca-Cola Company for 'their strong collaboration' with the US government to improve water resource to marginalised people in the developing world.
She said the project would bring 'considerable benefits to local inhabitants in the areas of watershed management, water supply, sanitation services, and hygiene promotion'. Ms Brown said that as a result of the alliance, some 20,000 people would benefit from improved water supply, 8,000 children would be able to make use of healthy sanitation facilities, and about 1,000 hectares of land would also be rehabilitated.
She said the US government supported public-private partnerships as reliable modes of meeting development objectives, and called on other private companies doing business in the developed world to emulate the Coca-Cola example.
Mr Neville Isdell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola International said the company, as part of its corporate responsibility to communities they operated in, was working to bring real change to the area. 'This project is part of an overall broad engagement with water all over the world, and it is very important to maintaining the most vital resource of the African people'.'It would enhance sanitation and reduce water borne diseases. And there would be real benefits to local communities. Business would not prosper if local communities do not prosper,' he said.
Mr Isdell said that it was the objective of the company that by 2009, all waste water in any of the company's bottling plants worldwide would be processed and returned to nature, saying, 'It is an example to other industries whose discharges do not meet standards.'
He said water was a basic human right, and even though the basic availability of water came with a price, the company would do its part to ensure that the 2015 Millennium Development Goal's of providing potable water and sanitation to all would be met.
Alhaji Abubakar Sadique Boniface, Minister for Water, Works and Housing said Ghana had realised the importance of water to its development agenda. He said: 'The drive is to promote a new water culture that emphasises easy access to safe water as the basic human need, while ensuring conservation practices and other stewardship of this precious resource to prevent its misuse, over exploitation and pollution.'
Alhaji Boniface commended the partnership between Coca-Cola and the US government to support water management in the Tano River Basin, adding that the support had come at an opportune time and expressed the hope that the communities would take full advantage of the gesture.