In a couple of days from now, I will have completed my first year working for the Public Affairs function in Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa Group offices. First year was a great learning curve and an amazing experience.

One of the most transformative learnings for me was the visits to our sustainability projects across Africa for a videography project we have on the way. Through these visits I saw on the ground the progress we are making in the communities but also observed what we can do for their continuous betterment. In my humble opinion, there are three things that make our projects long-lasting and successful;

  • Water in Ghana
    Positive added value:
    If they answer an important need and bring a positive added value to the lives of the people we are reaching,
  • Ownership: If the project has been deeply integrated to the community to the extent they take ownership of it, (for example, continue a sites’ maintenance)
  • Collaboration: If other partners, donors, community members can all bring something to the table to make the project grow further and flourish.

An example where I saw a perfect harmony across these three points was in Ghana where18 WaterHealth Centres were established providing access to clean water to 100.000 people. I had the privilege of visiting the ones in Manhean and Adeiso where previously the communities depended on the water from the nearby rivers for their household activities.

First of all, I witnessed great collaboration of among the multiple partners that brought their expertise and benefits to the table. They include Global Environment and Technology Fund and USAID, under the Safe Water for Africa (SWA) and Water and Development Alliance (WADA) partnerships as well as  Diageo who is also a donor to the SWA project.

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Secondly, ownership of the community was very apparent.  In Adeiso, Boncy Francis an Assembly Member from Salem Electoral Area explained the life before WHC as; “This community had the population of 39,000 residents. Before this project came we had some sources of water; hand dug wells and then one stream which is highly polluted now. Before the WaterHealth Centre came there was a general water problem in the community”. It was great to see his interest and ownership of the projects.

Finally, the projects answer a need to access clean water, sending children back to school for education, it brings added value via cost-savings for the community members and prevention from water-borne diseases. In Manhean, a community of 5,600 now has access to clean water through the WaterHealth Centre and two vantage points, extensions of the facility that are in 500m- 1 km distance. Diana Noi, Local Water Board Member describes; “Before the schoolchildren went to fetch water from the river for our  household activities and it took a lot of their time. It made them late to go to school. With WHC that is a thing of the past. We used to have water-borne diseases with the river water. But now with the safe, clean water from the water facility we don’t experience that anymore. Also if you wanted to have access to clean water you can buy water from the retailers who get their water from the city through tankers and that used to cost us an arm and a leg. WaterHealth Center is comparatively cheaper getting water, so it has saved us a lot, we have savings now”.

In conclusion, perfect harmony of the aforementioned three elements was apparent in Ghana. They gave me hope and reinforced my belief that when these conditions are in place our projects are successful and endure the challenge of time.

Aydan Olcer is the Group Corporate Affairs Manager for Coca-Cola Eurasia and Africa.