Nestlé is continuing to provide access to clean water and sanitation to communities in Central and West Africa as part of its commitment to effective water stewardship across the globe.
The world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company is ensuring its operations use water efficiently and do not compromise the right to water of local communities.
It is doing this through its Nestlé Commitment to Water Stewardship, which highlights its responsibilities as a water user and outlines the actions it needs to implement sustainable management of shared water resources.
Nestlé’s efforts on water and sanitation highlight the importance of the annual United Nations’ World Toilet Day on November 19, which raises awareness about the fact that 2.5 billion people around the world do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets or latrines.
In sub-Sahara Africa, about 307 million people remain without access to an improved source of drinking water and only 36% of the population has access to proper sanitation facilities.
Improving access to safe water and sanitation aims to address the worldwide issue of under-nutrition. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, increasing the number of toilets and changing people’s behaviour can help to reduce stunting, a condition which affects 40% of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.
The wellbeing of employees, rural communities, farmers, and suppliers is intrinsic to Nestlé’s success. In order to support rural development and strengthen its supply chain, the company seeks to improve water access and conservation in its operations and for the communities where it operates.
Nestlé is contributing to tackle the issue by pledging to advocate for effective water policies and stewardship.
This year, it started to roll out in all of its manufacturing facilities the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) Pledge for Access to safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), which commits businesses to upholding the human right to water and sanitation within their operations.
In addition, the company carries out Water Resources Review (WRR) by examining the level of WASH for employees at its facilities and identifying areas of improvement, and supporting decision-making investments and priority actions. Progress in implementing the Pledge is also monitored through this tool.
In Cameroon, the Douala factory site has already satisfactorily met the Pledge’s overall compliance level.
By establishing adequate water and sanitation facilities for its employees through the provision of drinking water at water fountains onsite, the company has also made an impact on local communities. Residents – as far as two to three kilometres away – collect around 5,000 litres of free water every day at the site’s water fountains.
Together with the local authority, a new wastewater drainage project has been earmarked to help these communities avoid flooding or stagnant water affecting their households, and to boost a cleaner environment.
In Côte d’Ivoire, a WRR was also carried out at Nestlé’s Yopogoun and Zone 4 factories in Abidjan.
The self-assessment includes interviews and a tour inside the sites focusing on categories such as General, Workplace Water Supply, Workplace Sanitation, and Workplace Hygiene.
Feedback from the assessment will be used as a guide in other Nestlé Côte d’Ivoire sites such as at its headquarters and distribution centres.
Nestlé has also committed to raise awareness of water access and conservation.
By 2016, it aims to provide 350,000 in local communities with access to water, sanitation or hygiene projects around its manufacturing facilities and in rural communities where it sources raw materials.
In Côte d’Ivoire, the company is making steady progress as more than 100,000 people in cocoa-growing communities are now able to access clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.
This is thanks to the recently renewed initiative by Nestlé and the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and the Red Cross Society.
To date, about 196,546 people from 132 villages and 81 schools have been impacted by the project.
Between 2010 and 2013, a total of 54 school toilets were constructed or renovated, 4,631 new community toilets were constructed and 88 water points were repaired.
In addition, 105,088 people have learnt about hygiene and sanitation, including how to store water and treat it safely at home as well as how to build safe sanitation facilities. Among these, 58,057 children, who learnt about the importance of hygiene.
People in the communities also learnt about how to prevent diarrhoeal diseases, currently the world’s second leading cause of death in children under five.
Nestlé will expand the water access and hygiene programme to Ghana in 2015.
In Nigeria, through Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), Nestlé is helping more than 3,000 children at 25 schools understand water conservation and hydration issues.
Nestlé’s efforts to boost water stewardship are part of its approach to business, which it calls ‘Creating Shared Value’.
The company is creating opportunities and improving livelihoods for the communities in which it operates, plus developing its own activities.