25 April 2019

Nigeria: How NBC Leveraged World Water Day to Boost CSR

Raheem Akingbolu writes on 2019 World Water Day and how Nigerian Bottling Company Limited leveraged the global initiative to deepen its corporate social responsibility.

Water has remained an essential component for sustainability of man, animal and plant. Individuals, corporate organisations and plants depend on water for healthy living and manufacturing process.

To this end, concerned environmentalists have continuously made clarion calls to stakeholders on the need for preservation and purification of water. This perhaps informs why many organisations across the world now tie their Corporate Social Responsibility to the World Water Day to sensitize societies on the significance of fresh water.

World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance day (always on 22 March) that highlights the importance of freshwater. The day is used to advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. World Water Day is celebrated around the world with a variety of events. The first edition was held on March 22, 1993.

As the world marks this year's edition with the theme; 'Leaving no one behind', communities, governments at various levels and corporate bodies also rolled out the drum, not only to celebrate the important day but to highlight various crisis associated with water. This is in line with the global mission to tackle the water crisis by addressing the reasons why so many people are being left behind.

NBC and World Water Day

As a manufacturing company that relies on water as core ingredient, the Nigerian Bottling Company, a member of the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) and bottler of Coca-Cola brands in Nigeria, has always been atthe forefront of companies that promote the needsto focus attention on the importance of freshwater and to advocate for sustainable management of freshwater resources.

In all the locations -Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja - where the company held activities to commemorate the 2019 edition, it was pointed out that the World Water Day is crucial to NBC because it provides an added impetus for people to seek ways to further the attainment of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 6 - Water for all by 2030. According to the company, this aptly captured the theme; leaving no one behind. Today, billions of people are still living without safe water - with their households, schools, workplaces, farms and factories struggling to survive and thrive.

According tothe Public Affairs and Communications Director, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC), Ekuma Eze, "Nigerian Bottling Company considers such a platform as an opportunity to advocate for the sustainable use of water while also helping communities in need of water interventions to ensure that when it comes to safe water, truly no one is left behind,"

In Lagos, NBC held a water sustainability stakeholder forum which was graced by stakeholders, including the Permanent Secretary, Lagos StateMinistry of the Environment, Bamgboye Abiodun and the Executive Secretary, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Oluchi Odimuko, students and community leaders.It was established that only 33% of the 22 million residents have access to potable water from the state water corporation.

Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer of the Water Corporation, Muminu Badmus said the state is presently pumping less than 300 million gallons of potable water daily and the organisation wants to take it to 492 million gallons per day in the next four years to meet increasing demand for water. He said the corporation is facing the challenges of electricity to pump water and the destruction of some of its underground infrastructure by contractors.

Badmus further disclosed that the corporation has plans to increase the state's water production capacity to 492 million gallons per day by year 2023, to close the water demand gap significantly. He explained that LWC has also widened its database to effectively supply water to more people in Lagos and is improving the consumer experience by deploying water meters to properties across the state, so that consumers can now pay for the exact amount of water they consume.

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of the Environment, Mr.Bamgboye Abiodun commended the role of NBC in ensuring the efficient use and management of water particularly in their operations. Abiodun noted that the company has demonstrated a clear commitment to making water accessible not only for their operations but for the communities around them through their water management processes.

Speaking at the Lagos event, the Public Affairs Manager, Lagos/West, Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC), Ifeoma Okoye explained that NBC's efforts arein line with the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company's 2025 sustainability commitments.

Okoye stated that "Our plant here has a fully functional effluent treatment plant technology which was deployed to ensure the monitoring and protection of water resources. We have recorded a 27 per cent efficiency improvement in the last five years."

In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NBC staff alongside volunteers and residents in the neighborhood community cleaned up the Oginigba River opposite its Port Harcourt Plant.

Also, in Abuja, the NBC partnered with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory Water Board to hold lectures and commission boreholes in two communities in Abuja to mark the 2019 World Water Day.

The company's efforts around water stewardship were recently recognized with the award of the prestigious Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Certification to its Abuja manufacturing plant in January 2019. The AWS Standard Certifications role is to recognise and reward good water stewardship performance. The recognition wasa milestone achievement for the company, as NBC is the first organization in Nigeria, and the first Coca-Cola bottling plant in Africa to be certified under the AWS global water stewardship program.

Before the NBC Abuja plant was accorded this recognition, it was rigorously audited and certified to meet key indicators by credible, third party assessors independent of AWS or the site owners.

Other Sustainability Programs

Meanwhile, observers have linked the achievement of the company in this regard to the fact that across many countries, Coca‑Cola HBC is known to be a sustainability leader in the beverage industry. "At NBC, we operate under the basic philosophy that our business is only as sustainable as the communities in which we operate. Consequently, the company invests in programmes and partnerships that help build better communities around the world through promoting inclusive and sustainable development," its Managing Director,George Polymenakos, had told THISDAY during a recent interview.

As part of NBC's commitment to environmental sustainability, the company played pivotal role in the establishment of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) - a coalition which includes Coca-Cola Nigeria, Nestle, Nigerian Breweries, 7Up and The Nigerian Bottling Company - with a shared concern for the environment and a commitment to collaborate with all stakeholders to build a sustainable recycling economy for food and beverage packaging waste.

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