The Coca-Cola and UNDP cooperate on "Every Drop Matters"

21 Mar 2013

The Coca-Cola Company has pledged US$2 million this year – the International Year of Water Cooperation – to Every Drop Matters, a long-standing collaboration between the drinks giant and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP).

Ankara – The latest pledge adds to the US$11 million the Coca-Cola Company has already contributed to Every Drop Matters since its launch in 2006.

Every Drop Matters tackles challenges related to water supply, sanitation, water management and climate change around the world.

Every Drop Matters provides grants for local groups to undertake projects that improve access to water, improve water quality, lead to better water management and help communities adapt to climate change.

The programme has projects in 18 countries and is an inspiring model of how big business can cooperate with a respected development agency, to help local people and safeguard water for the future.

“Our vision is to help achieve the Millennium Development Goal on improving access to safe water and good sanitation, which can change people’s lives in so many ways,” says Dr Boğaçhan Benli, Programme Manager for Every Drop Matters.

“It can especially make a big difference for women and girls, because they’re usually the ones fetching water, which takes a lot of time. Also women usually care for anyone in the family who gets sick from unsafe water or poor hygiene. If you improve this, you can free up time and money for other things, like going to school or starting a business”, Benli added.

The projects supported through Every Drop Matters are diverse and involve cooperation at varying regional and local scales.

One such example is the Black Sea Box, an environmental education kit for schoolchildren, which includes over 50 games. The Black Sea is the world’s most polluted sea and the Black Sea Box is part of a broad effort to raise awareness of the need to cooperate in cleaning up and taking care of this important shared water resource.

At Expo 2012, the Black Sea Box was recognised as one of 11 projects showing global best practice on water.

“This partnership shows what can happen when a global business such as Coca-Cola and the UNDP work together on a critical issue,” explains Dr. Kadri Özen, Public Affairs Director, Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group.

“This is what we call the Golden Triangle… The collaboration between business, government and civil society. Other evidence of the value in this collaboration is shown by the ‘Clean Sea for Clean City’ project, which attracted other partners including the Sochi 2014 Olympics organizing committee and the City of Sochi. This initiative won the Harmony with Nature award in the recently held Sochi 2014 Sustainability Awards”, Özen added.

The work to clean up the polluted Aghstev River in Armenia and promote eco-tourism is another prime example of the power of cooperation. Work started with a small seed grant from Every Drop Matters. Progress on the clean-up attracted further funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Success bred success and Every Drop Matters and the Armenian Government provided additional funds to help meet the goals. The additional funding, plus a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, helped build wastewater treatment works and rebuild crumbling local sewers. Cleaner water is making a big difference to the health and well-being of people in towns along the river and downstream in Azerbaijan, and opening up economic opportunities.

In the small community of Marwaheen in water-scarce South Lebanon, farmers and villagers cooperated in an Every Drop Matters project to secure their water supply. They reclaimed and restored a traditional water harvesting and storage system. The successful restoration has made the water supply more reliable, and local farmers are now profiting from being able to grow vegetables with irrigation.

Every Drop Matters is offering funding to more such local groups, beginning in May. “We may have the involvement of two of the world’s largest organizations,” says Boğaçhan Benli, “but all our projects begin with what a local community really needs.”

This was clearly demonstrated with another Every Drop Matters project in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, which helped the community to build latrines, dig wells and receive environmental and hygiene education. It also makes life safer for women and girls, who now have secure toilet facilities and do not have to find places in the open. In an area of Sri Lanka badly hit by both the 2005 tsunami and a long-running civil war, this investment in basic infrastructure is desperately needed.

Every Drop Matters is continuously looking for new strategic partners.

According to Cihan Sultanoğlu, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, this type of innovative partnership is a model worth being examined and replicated.

“With diverse experiences and expertise, the partners complement each other and together deliver a range of support that exceeds what each could offer on its own” she says.