On April 23, the U.S. Government, Coca-Cola Philippines through the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, Inc. (CCFPI), and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) have entered into a partnership that will enable more Filipinos to access safe drinking water.
Ms. Gloria D. Steele, Mission Director of U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Mr. Diego Granizo, President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines, and Mr. Roberto Umali, Member of the PBSP Board of Trustees signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly work towards groundwater replenishment, freshwater source expansion, and community water access projects in areas covered by the USAID’s Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth (Be Secure) Project, namely Leyte, Iloilo, Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental and Basilan provinces.
The MOU addresses the issues of water security and sustainability of water supply and will employ technologies that are simple, low-cost and low-maintenance. These technologies include groundwater infiltration wells, pavers for groundwater recharge, rainwater harvesting and storage, flood water diversion and storage, watershed protection and rehabilitation and others; and will be implemented from 2015-2017.
A 2014 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) progress report shows that although the country surpassed MDG targets on safe drinking water, approximately 15.7 million Filipinos still lack access. In addition, water service providers struggle to keep pace with increased demand for water fueled by population growth and industry.
Both ground and surface water sources also face issues related to environmental degradation, contamination from untreated industrial and domestic waste water, and threat from climate change. A study conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture revealed that groundwater, a common source of water in cities, municipalities and rural areas in the Philippines may be depleted by the year 2050.
“The U.S. Government recognizes that managing water in a sound and sustainable manner saves lives and advances development. USAID programs have a long history of using innovative advances in technology and creating partnerships with the private sector to increase water availability and quality,” said Director Steele. “We are pleased to again partner with Coca-Cola to continue our shared commitment in the water sector.”
Demonstrating a partnership that is good for the planet, the U.S. Government, through USAID, continues to work with the Philippine Government to improve access to water. Under the Be Secure Project, USAID promotes good governance and builds capacity for long-term water security, improved access to water and wastewater treatment services, and build more resilient communities.
The Coca-Cola Company understands that water is vital to communities, to the economy, to the world and to the business. In 2007, The Coca-Cola Company together with its bottling partners set an aspirational goal to safely return to nature and to communities an amount of water equivalent to what they use in their beverages and production by 2020.
“Coca-Cola believes in the importance of a reliable supply of freshwater for resilient communities. Through The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Company wishes to expand the Agos Program through simple, low-cost, low-maintenance and sustainable technologies. As a beverage company, water stewardship is a primary focus of our sustainability efforts. This is why we continue to work closely with Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines, our bottling partner, the Coca-Cola Foundation, and all our other partners to meet our water stewardship goals, ” shared Diego Granizo, President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Philippines.
He added, “USAID has always been a valuable partner to Coca-Cola. We are happy to work with them again for this project. We are excited to work with them, the different local government units, and academic institutions to sustain the program’s initiatives. We are also looking forward to working with Be Secure, through PBSP, who will be sharing their expertise and resources to harness business sector solutions and enhance the impact of the contribution of the business sector for poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.”
This partnership also highlights the establishment of the Water Alliance in the Philippines, an initiative that builds on the collective effort by the private sector in the Philippines to address water issues. It is a CEO-led coalition of businesses that are committed to creating solutions to impending water problems and water security in the Philippines.