As part of Coca-Cola Company’s global water replenishment program, Coca-Cola Pakistan has joined hands with the Indus Earth Trust (IET) by providing assistance amounting to Rs.19 million, to launch a water replenishment project in Kohistan Union Council Area-Thatta district. Kohistan area is one of the many marginalized communities in Pakistan where poverty is rampant, schooling takes a back bench and access to clean hygienic drinking water is not widely available. The aim of this project is to help conserve and replenish ground water as well as harvest rain water for the inhabitants to use, with special focus on the local women, who presently are tasked with the duty of fetching water by walking several kilometers to perform this arduous task, even during hot summer months.

The rehabilitation project will benefit about 34-40 villages comprising of about 2,200 households with a population of 15,000. It also targets Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3 (Better health and Wellbeing) and SDG 6 (Clean water and Sanitation) as well as focuses on rain water harvesting through 28 water reservoirs and rehabilitation of the already existing 10 dug wells. Some existing reservoirs will be restored as they have collapsed and new ones will be located in line with rain water run off channels. Rehabilitation of the dug wells will be done through brick-lining, capping and installation of hand-pumps. The water extracted will be collected in covered tanks and then and distributed through channels for household use, kitchen gardening, and for troughs for the livestock.

Other key components of the project include construction of check dams to capture water from hill streams, to irrigate over 1,000 acres, setting up of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), trainings to build the capacity of women local leaders, awareness generation of awareness of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), etc. The project implementation period will be one year starting 2017.

“Water replenishment remains a priority goal of Coca-Cola’s CSR strategy throughout the world, and our focus is especially on the marginalized communities,” stated Rizwan U. Khan, General Manager Coca-Cola Pakistan & Afghanistan. “This is a part of the pledge which The Coca-Cola Company made in 2007, to give back to the environment all the water that we use for our business, by year 2020. This target was actually already met by 2015, but we are continuing with doing more to replenish water in our markets.”

Our partner and driving force behind this project, Indus Earth Trust is an experienced not-for-profit organization established in 2000, and has worked in the area of sustainable development to aid neglected coastal communities in Pakistan. Speaking about the partnership with Coca-Cola, IET’s CEO, Shahid Khan stated that the project will lead to meeting SDG 3 and SDG 6, and encourage reverse migration, as rural people tend to return to their villages from trying to find livelihood in cities, if their own areas are provided at least with water for their traditional occupation of agriculture and livestock keeping.

IET has previously partnered with Coca-Cola and UNDP to provide potable water for up to 30 villages in interior Sindh. This project provided water on tap for the very first time to the beneficiaries, using solar pumps to extract the water and pump it to an overhead tank, for distribution as close to households as the communities require.

Many local community organizations within the villages in the Kohistan area have been formed. This is based on the idea that community involvement in the planning and execution of project goals leads to more effective and equitable development. For this reason, they are particularly important in poor communities where the government is unable or unwilling to provide much needed social services. Part of the Community Organizations aim is to facilitate WASH (Water & Sanitation Hygiene) trainings and skills, especially to the village women as an integral part of the project.

The long-term benefits of water replenishment project include improvement in community health, especially for women and children, community empowerment, heightened economic status, environmental restoration and enhancement of the quality of life in the Kohistan region through health hygiene training and provision of drinkable water.