The Nigerian Bottling Company’s (NBC’s) commitment to a sustainable environment through the promotion of programmes that contribute to access to water and water security was highlighted at this year’s World Water Day (WWD), which was marked March 22, 2013 across the world.
With the theme for this year’s celebration being, “International Year of Water Cooperation”, the NBC, which has water stewardship as a major focus of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, partnered with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the Federal Ministry of Environment, host communities and select schools to contribute to access to clean water. The event held simultaneously at five of its locations across Nigeria.
March 22, 2013 was set aside by the United Nations as the International Year of Water Cooperation to raise awareness on the potential for increased cooperation and on the challenges facing water management in light of the increase demand for access to water. By declaring a particular day to focus on water, the UN hopes to highlight the history of successful water cooperation initiatives, as well as identify burning issues on water education, water diplomacy, transboundary water management, financing cooperation, national/international legal frameworks, and the linkages with the Millennium Development Goals.
Promoting Healthy Communities
In Lagos, the commemoration was the donation of water storage materials to Agidingbi Senior Secondary School, Ikeja, Lagos and a demonstration of the unique method of purifying water to make it potable. Speaking at the handing over of the equipment to the school, Dayo Omotosho, NBC Ikeja Plant Manager, said that the bottler’s interest in water sustainable schemes extends to the communities where it operates.
“Given the nature of our business as a bottler of beverages of The Coca-Cola Company, the NBC appreciates the importance of water. We appreciate the fact that our ability to grow is related to the availability and quality of local water resources. Therefore, we consciously invest in programmes that contribute to water access and promote water security; and by so doing, contribute to the long-term socio-economic development of communities. Access to safe water contributes to healthy communities, which in turn releases the full potential of the people in these communities to thrive in their various enterprises. Access to water, therefore, is a major contributor to vibrant and productive local economies.”
Mrs. Gladys Nsaka, Vice Principal of Agidingbi Senior Secondary School, said that NBC’s initiatives on WWD will help the school make better use of water, and enhance the students’ knowledge about water optimisation. “We appreciate the NBC for this gesture and promise to encourage our students to cultivate the habit of proper handling of water. Water is very precious: the more water is wasted, the more expensive it gets,” she added.
At the other locations which included Abuja, Kaduna, Owerri and Asejire, the company WWD included the provision of water cans and water purifiers for households in Asejire, NBC Plant’s host community in Oyo State; provision of a borehole and water cans to households in Owerri, NBC Plant’s host community in Imo State; clearing of refuse by the water source in Kaduna and Abuja Plants’ host communities, as well as participate at a Water Roundtable with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in Abuja.
NBC’s Water Strategy
The NBC’s water strategy, according to Yomi Onakoya, Communications Manager of the bottler, is encapsulated in the 3Rs which are Reduce, Replenish and Recycle. The NBC has achieved a 54% reduction in the volume of water consumed in its operations by investing in water-saving technologies to control water use and also recycle waste water in some stages of its production process for less-stringent house-keeping tasks.
In addition, its 13 plants have fully functional on-site Waste Water Treatment Plants. These plants ensure that waste water from its bottling operations are recycled and discharged back to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and agriculture. Also, the NBC has invested in recent times in the provision of over 18 water projects for the benefit of 150,000 people in communities across the country. “We continue to invest in the provision of potable water in water-stressed communities around our 13 bottling plants, 28 commercial territories and 58 depots.”
The NBC began celebrating World Water Day in 2009 with its ‘Water Ambassadors’ initiative by targeting a segment of the public to engage for the celebration using the theme as the focus of the engagement. In 2010, NBC chose students as its ‘Water Ambassadors’ and in 2012 farmers were chosen as ‘Water Ambassadors’ going by the theme ‘Water for Agriculture.’ The celebration always seeks to share information on best water practices delivered by officials of the Water Resources MDAs (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) as well as tokens that can enhance water quality. The celebration is usually rounded off with a visit to NBC’s Waste Water Treatment Plant.