Diageo and WaterAid partner up to provide access to safe drinking water in Africa

Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol, has announced a five year partnership with WaterAid, an international NGO providing access to safe water and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Through this exciting new collaboration, the partners will use their collective influence to advocate universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) at local, national and global levels and work together to reach those affected by water scarcity.

“As a global drinks company, the careful management and conservation of water is a top priority for us. I’m very proud of Diageo’s long and strong record in responsible water stewardship and our Water of Life programme which has brought clean, safe water and sanitation to millions people in 18 countries over the last 10 years,” said David Cutter, President Global Supply and Procurement, Diageo plc.

Diageo employees will also play an active role, taking part in fundraising, advocacy, volunteering and skills training for WaterAid staff and projects around the world. The partnership is designed to directly contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs), specifically goal six: ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Good health, women’s empowerment, education, nutrition, food security, housing and urban planning all rely on good water, sanitation and hygiene services. Through its flagship community water programme in Africa, Water of Life, Diageo has supported WaterAid for over 15 years. Over the last five years Diageo has raised over £1m to invest in WaterAid projects, transforming the lives of over 140,000 people with access to safe water and over 150,000 people with access to a toilet. Diageo is already working with WaterAid in Nigeria, supporting WaterAid’s programme in Bauchi State, which will provide access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene for over 10,000 people.

The partnership, which is  UN registered, will identify communities which are most in need of support and located near or within areas which Diageo operates or sources agricultural raw materials. Projects will build toilet facilities and household or school water connections, install pumps and water points and promote good practice on hygiene and sanitation. The partnership will also help to implement Diageo’s commitment to the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s ‘WASH in the Workplace Pledge’, which ensures appropriate access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all employees at work.

“WaterAid is a fantastic NGO and we are hugely proud to partner with them to intensify our efforts. Whether in India, Africa or South East Asia, our partnership will bring together Diageo’s broad geographical footprint with WaterAid’s great expertise and experience. We will step up our engagement with governments and businesses on the vital need for universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene and focus our projects on local communities near our sites and in our supply chain,” Cutter said.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid, commented: “We’re delighted to announce a five-year strategic partnership with Diageo. This new partnership builds on support Diageo has given WaterAid over the last 15 years to help reach some of the world’s most marginalised communities with access to safe water and sanitation.

“WaterAid believes safe water and sanitation are basic human rights, and that the private sector has an important role to play in achieving universal access to water and sanitation.  The global water and sanitation crisis requires a joined-up and collaborative approach between NGOs, businesses and governments to ensure everyone everywhere has safe water and sanitation by the year 2030.”

In addition to new projects, the partnership will mean more support for communities in Uganda where Diageo is already working with WaterAid to provide water and sanitation services to more than 3,000 people. This has changed lives.  The effort and time 60-year-old Jesca Mugala spent on collecting water left her little time to do anything else, but since a borehole was installed in her village in 2014, the community has prospered and women like Jesca have seized new opportunities. She’s now the chairperson of the Water Users committee, which manages the new water points, which she is extremely proud of.

A third of Diageo’s operations are based in water stressed areas and the partnership with WaterAid will underpin the commitments made by Diageo in its Water Blueprint. This global strategy on water stewardship is designed to effect substantial, sustainable and measurable change in how the company manages water in its own operations and in its broader supply chain.