To sustain safe water and water resilience in Imo communities for improved health, The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), had entered into partnership with the Rural African Water Development Project (RAWDP) and the Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction and Urban Resilience (IDRRUR).
Speaking during official flag off ceremony of the Resilient Watershed For All (RAFA), held at Rockview Hotel Owerri last week, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation, Saadia Madsbjerg, noted that the foundation is dedicated to enhance the resilience of vulnerable communities by promoting sustainable access to safe water, saying it takes pride in collaborating with strategic partners and stakeholders to increase impact and efficacy.
She explained that “over a 24-month period, this project is set to reach a total of 2.5 million people in the three urban Local Government Areas of Owerri North, Owerri West and Owerri Municipal of Imo State. This intervention will restore and replenish over 15,000m3 of riparian landscape using nature-based solutions especially riparian buffers on the riverbank”.
Madsbjerg added that to sustain this, the initiative would mainstream asset management into the management of these water facilities to guarantee longevity and sustainability of this impact investment, observing that the project will also expedite community impact by prioritising sustainability to ensure that key inputs to unlock sustainability gains are optimised.
She reiterated that “the community-based interventions focus on watershed governance, sanitising and protecting watershed sources through the conservation of forest and woodland ecosystems”, stressing that the initiative will support the State’s Water Corporation Board, the social and economic development of 25 communities within Imo State, all of which she pointed out depend on the Otamiri River as a critical water source.
“Similarly, the project addresses several important challenges faced by affected communities such as inadequate access to clean drinking water caused by the degradation of the significant Otamiri Watershed, low awareness levels of the importance of and capacity for watershed management, insufficient capacity of the communities to sustainably manage the watershed and loss of biodiversity and forest cover caused by high levels of deforestation”, Madsbjerg harped.
In her words, Executive Director, Rural Africa Water Development Initiative, Ogechi Ezeji, hinted that “by working together under this approach, RAWDP and the Coca Cola Foundation hope to successfully address critical challenges in dozens of communities and a wide variety of issue areas and sectors including but not limited to water and sanitation, health, food security, climate change, education, energy and entrepreneurship”.
Ezeji posited that “RAWDP is leveraging this partnership with TCCF to espouse its avowed commitment to increasing its development impact in Nigeria and is available to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders and the development community. Such collaborations are essential to achieving our mission of ending extreme poverty and reducing mortality rates due to low levels of sanitation and hygiene”.
The ceremony was also attended by Commissioners for Industries and Water Resources, Imo State, Mr. Chijioke Onumajuru and Dame Ann Dozie including Dr. Joachim Ezeji