Coca-Cola’s RAIN set to replenish 15-billion litres of water over the next decade

With the effects of climate change including prolonged droughts, extreme weather and higher temperatures already being felt in many regions of South Africa, the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is helping to ensure billions of litres of water is given back to communities and replenished in nature for the next ten years.

Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, RAIN funds five major projects in South Africa to help restore priority catchment areas by removing thirsty, invasive alien plants, while creating valuable employment opportunities for women, youth and families by supporting water-related projects.

“These important water catchment areas feed our communities, towns and cities, yet thirsty alien invasive plants are consuming millions of litres of this precious resource unnecessarily from these areas each year,” says Beatriz R. Perez, Chair and President at The Coca-Cola Foundation.

“As part of our broader water stewardship programme, RAIN is helping to rehabilitate thousands of hectares of land and replenish water while economically empowering families.”

Beatriz R. Perez, Chair and President at The Coca-Cola Foundation

The five projects received $1.25M in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation in 2019 and have collectively cleared 3400 hectares of thirsty, invasive alien plant species, which will help replenish an estimated 1,5-billion litres annually for the next 10 years.

Most of these strategic water sources are located in remote areas, with limited economic or skills development opportunities. In addition to the environmental benefits these projects bring, they also focus on creating jobs, upskilling individuals, and providing support and training for sustainable economic opportunities. Collectively, these projects created 389 jobs in South Africa’s rural, priority catchment areas.

The five projects are spread across South Africa and focus on involving local communities, while addressing water security on a larger scale. Implementing partners provide development expertise and additional resources required to implement the projects sustainably.

The five implementing projects include the following:

Wemmershoek Dam, serving The Greater Cape Town area: Working with The Nature Conservancy, this project cleared over 2,500 hectares on the upper slopes of the Wemmershoek Dam catchment, creating 202 jobs, specifically empowering 62 women and youth.

uMzimvubu Watershed Restoration, Matatiele, serving East London in the Eastern Cape: Working with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa , this project cleared 115 hectares of invasive alien plants and created 60 jobs, empowering 32 women and 39 youth. Additionally, this project protected 5 natural springs, improving the community’s access to spring water. Working with local traditional authorities, livestock management was improved and grazing rotations were established, economically empowering 437 people through grazing association memberships and access to cattle auctions.

Wolseley Wetlands Restoration, serving Wolseley and the Greater Cape Town area: Partnering with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa , this project cleared invasive alien plant species from a critical biodiverse wetlands area in the Upper Breede River Valley in this important agricultural region. The project cleared 470 hectares and created 94 jobs, empowering 42 women and 39 youth.

Algoa Water Fund, Diep River, Eastern Cape serving Nelson Mandela Bay: Working with implementing parter Living Lands, this project cleared thirsty invasive alien plant species from the Impofu Dam, a key upstream catchment area for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Additionally, the team worked with local landowners to create a cohesive and collaborative long-term catchment management plan for the area. This project cleared over 260 hectares of invasive alien plants and created 21 jobs in an extreme rural area with high rates of unemployment.

Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, serving Kutama, Limpopo Valley and Musina: Working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, this project cleared 32 hectares and created 12 jobs, empowering five women and youth. To complement their ecological work, the team trained 701 local school children on hygiene and water conservation. In addition, the project team also worked with local landowners on the proclamation of the western Soutpansberg Nature Reserve to protect 4 000 hectares under improved conservation management with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism’s Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.

A further US$500 000 from The Coca-Cola Foundation will be invested for an additional 12 months for three of these projects – The Greater Cape Town Water Fund in Atlantis, Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo.

Across Africa, The Replenish Africa Initiative is on track to positively impact more than 6 million people through a diverse range of water-based initiatives by the end of 2020. Over the past decade, RAIN has positively impacted at least 250 000 women and youth and returned 18.5bn litres to communities and nature through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes as well as watershed protection.

As climate change disrupts the water system, affecting drinking water supplies, sanitation, food and energy production, The Coca-Cola Foundation and its local implementing partners are collaborating to facilitate strategic investments in South Africa’s key watersheds. These efforts will pay dividends with the optimisation of the country’s water supply into the future.

“As Coca-Cola, we believe that the most effective work happens when there is collaboration across the public and private sectors for the benefit of the local communities,” concludes Perez.

The Coca-Cola Foundation
The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, TCCF has awarded more than $900 million in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. More information about TCCF can be found here.
About the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)

In response to the severe water challenges faced by nearly 300 million Africans living without access to clean water, Coca-Cola introduced RAIN in 2009. RAIN is Coca-Cola’s contribution to helping Africa achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access. To date, RAIN has reached more than 2.8 million people with improved water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across 41 countries. By the end of 2020, RAIN aims to measurably improve the lives of at least six (6) million people in Africa through sustainable WASH interventions.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.

To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa
For nearly 60 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in over 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.

For more information, visit

Living Lands
Living Lands is a not-for-profit organization for conserving and restoring living landscapes. A living landscape consists of a variety of healthy ecosystems and land uses, and is home to ecological, agricultural, and social systems, which are managed so as to function sustainably. This ensures that natural and cultural resources are available for future generations and that the system is resilient for adaptation to climate change.

To learn more, visit

The Endangered Wildlife Trust
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. It is a beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together.

To learn more, visit

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City landscaping project wins overall award at SALI 2020 award

The Hout Bay Dune Project, managed by Vula Environmental Services, a contractor appointed by the City’s Environment Department, has won the country’s top award for excellence in landscaping. It also won three gold awards in three categories at the South African Landscapers Insitute’s (SALI) annual ceremony. The event was held virtually on 31 July 2020. 

The Hout Bay Dune Rehabilitation Project was entered into three categories, namely, specialised landscaping, water-wise landscaping and environmental landscaping. The project received a gold award in all three categories.

These awards made the project eligible for the Trophy of Excellence as well as the South African Landscapers Institute Shield for Excellence in Landscaping, the overall award, for the best project in the country.

More than 100 projects were submitted for the various categories from all over the country.

Vula Environmental Services is a principal member of the South African Landscaping Institute. It entered the project for the award in terms of the membership criteria. The entrants were monitored continuously for the quality of work.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Alderman Marian Nieuwoudt, expressed her excitement for this achievement. She further commented that the project could not have reached its goals without “adaptive management.”

Nieuwoudt further explained that it was the combined approach of sand removal, wind net installation, marram grass planting, dune thicket vegetation planting and seeding, selective irrigation and intensive maintenance that was key to establishing a stable dune system. 

“This is the true epitome of strategic leadership and value for money. I also want to commend the EPWP for the groundwork. This project would not have been possible without their contribution,” explained Nieuwoudt.

The EPWP workers have since secured contracts until the end of December 2020, a Plant Production learnership, NQF level 2, as well as various other short courses in financial planning, life skills, basic computer skills and Small Business Enterprise.

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SANEDI and DOD partner for water treatment project in Hoedspruit

SANEDI (South African National Energy and Development Institute) is partnering with the Department of Defence (DoD) for a Water Treatment Works project at the SANDF Air Force Base in Hoedspruit in the Maruleng Municipality, Limpopo in light of Covid-19. 

The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions are essential for protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks including Covid-19. This is according to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent report: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Waste Management for the Covid-19 Virus.

The report added that ensuring evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH (water, sanitation and health) and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces, and health-care facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19. 

“Ensuring evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH (water, sanitation and health) and waste management practices in communities,  homes, schools, marketplaces,  and health-care facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of, the virus that causes Covid-19,” added the report.

The project

Reliable and sufficient energy form the backbone in the effective delivery of clean water and waste treatment systems. Hoedspruit is situated in a severely water-stressed climatic zone compounded by a municipality that faces many electricity and water supply challenges. 

The Maruleng Municipality must deliver services hampered by ageing, often defunct and energy inefficient infrastructure of sewage and water treatment works which is based on the SANDF’s Air Force Base. The SANDF is able to facilitate a direct intervention by SANEDI to assess and ultimately implement energy solutions in order to assist with the situation, allowing for clean water distribution within Hoedspruit and surrounds. The collaboration between SANEDI and SANDF is a mutually beneficial one and is expected to expedite this five-year project towards completion. 

The Water Treatment Works project will initially assess the current infrastructure on the air force base, looking specifically at the energy consumption as well as the current state of repair and operations of the water treatment plant as well as the sewage works. SANEDI will also investigate the opportunities for clean energy (energy-efficient and renewable energy sources) interventions across this water treatment infrastructure. 

Based on the above assessments and available data, SANEDI will recommend the relevant energy and water system interventions. This is expected to lead to project initiation within 2020 (COVID-19 restrictions allowing).

The Manager of the Renewable Energy Centre of Research & Development, Clean Energy at SANEDI, Dr Karen Surridge, explained that the project will focus primarily on process energy efficiency, possible renewable energy interventions and system support towards efficient, reliable and clean water provision.

“The project is expected also to include skills development and transfer, long-term maintenance and development of an established inter-institutional support team comprising SANEDI, the SANDF and the Maruleng Municipality,” Surridge said

General Joseph Ledwaba of the DOD Defence Works Formation, sorting under Chief of Logistics SANDF, added, “We are excited to be a part of this energy intervention and look forward to a fruitful collaboration that leads to a reliable and health-promoting water treatment and supply to the Hoedspruit community”

The role players

Apart from facilitating the all-important collaboration with the municipality, the SANDF will provide system maintenance and structural implementation support.  Also, any hardware installation will be protected by the SANDF – access control will, therefore, be stringent, preventing potential theft and vandalism.

SANEDI features an entrenched experience in the execution of clean energy applications in water treatment projects.  To date, SANEDI has successfully completed municipal water treatment works projects through its REEEP (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership), projects at the !Kheis Local Municipality in the Northern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

Surridge stressed the important role that clean water plays in maintaining good hygiene and preventing the spread of Covid-19. 

“With the Water Treatment Works project at Hoedspruit we’re hoping to establish an infrastructure that will provide clean, safe water for the military base, residents in the town and the surrounding communities,” concluded Surridge.

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Smart water solutions that will disrupt Africa

Solving Africa’s water problems has become critical for the future of the continent. Xylem Africa has created new smart solutions that will benefit Africa. The Engineering Manager, Vinesan Govender, explained that Africa is not simply a dry continent. 

“Africa is not a very water-rich continent. We have pockets of water in parts of Africa, and the other parts of Africa really struggle with regards to two large bodies of water. In some areas, there is plenty of water, but you need to cover large distances to reach communities. In other areas, water is very scarce, and you need special interventions to reach it at all.”

African challenges need African solutions

Govender further explained that these issues apply to the macro and micro scales. He used the Ugandan capital of Kampala as an example. He explained that while cities like Kampala have access to water infrastructure, it is not the case for those living in rural areas. 

“The people living in Uganda’s capital Kampala has access to water infrastructure. But what happens when you go out into the rural areas and the big farmlands, where people are very sparsely situated? Pipes rarely get that far, as is evident from the high number of boreholes on the continent. This, in itself, creates challenges in Africa that need African solutions.”

The situation for water access on the continent demands serious attention. More than 40% – 783 million people – in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to an improved source of drinking water. What solutions will help change this picture?

The need for low-cost and decentralised water solutions

Govender explained that decentralised, low-maintenance infrastructure is a keystone for Africa’s water future. He added that there is no longer a need for large and centralised infrastructure. 

“Solar power is an example of how grids are being decentralised. Water can operate in the same way, especially when managing wastewater. It has become cost-effective to have more and smaller sites to manage water, and it’s much more efficient because you can calibrate that infrastructure to reflect the needs of the surrounding community. This improves performance and the longevity of the equipment.”

The benefits of smart water technologies

Africa can benefit from quantum leaps in water technologies which deliver much more efficiency, control and cost-management. Examples can include smart technologies that help spot leaks and inform planning. There are also vastly-improved water infrastructure designs and management philosophies.

These can address the many different scenarios found across Africa, each requiring a blend of international expertise and local context. Govender claimed that these solutions could effective anywhere on the continent. He added that in Gauteng borehole water can contain heavy metals due to mining activity 

“The water management in Africa is extremely poor, and in most cases, non-existent. We are not looking after our aquifers, which have become contaminated.”

He added that in Gauteng borehole water can contain heavy metals due to mining activity and could be added to water recycling. 

“We can manage those aquifers responsibly and even make them part of water recycling. The same counts for other water resources, such as the great lakes. These are renewable resources, but they are not infinite without the right water management culture.”

The need for chemical-free water solutions

Chemical-free disinfection of water is another pivotal solution that can disrupt water in Africa. Govender explained that technologies such as UV and ozone are not yet as cost-effective at large scales as chlorine. However, it is a very different case for smaller applications, such as community water supplies, water in tanks or water used for cleaning. He added that an enormous amount of chemicals enter Africa’s water ecosystems. He further explained that by applying chemical-free disinfection at strategic points can massively improve quality of life, and fight infections such as cholera and E. coli, without harming the same environment many subsist on.

The water evolution can happen through new ways of thinking, with technology to support them. 

“It is a pyramid effect, and smart technology sits at the very top of the pyramid. If you do not have the base of the pyramid in place, which is mindset, education and infrastructure, smart technology is not going to add any value.”

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