Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa

To mark this year’s World Water Week and World Water Day on 22 March, Coca-Cola joined the WWF’s Journey of Water on a three-day trip from Greyton to Elgin in the Western Cape, South Africa.

The WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. Kamini Redhi, Marketing Manager for Hydration at Coca-Cola South Africa, was nominated to attend the 2019 WWF Journey of Water on behalf of the company.

The Journey of Water took 40 water heroes - on foot - on the exact journey that our water travels from its source to our taps. This year’s group of heroes included media, influencers like Pearl Thusi, Claire Mawisa, and Chad Saaiman, as well as corporate sponsors invested and committed to making the world a better place, including Sanlam, Woolworths, Heineken, AB InBev, Nedbank and Coca-Cola, alongside the WWF team consisting mainly of scientists.

Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa

Kamini donned her hiking shoes and shared her experience below, taking us through the main lessons she learned on the journey about South Africa’s precious resource:

1. Water doesn’t come from a tap! As ridiculous and obvious as it sounds, going through this journey and looking at where and how our water arrives at the tap gives me so much more respect for the water we receive.

Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa

2. South Africa is a water scarce country – 10% of the total land area of SA supplies half of the country’s river flow.

3. South Africa has 22 strategic water source areas that make up 10% of the land space. On this fourth edition of the #journeyofwater, we visited one of the 22 strategic water source areas, the Boland Water Source Area, which supplies water to four million people.

4. We visited a 125km long river named Riviersonderend, which supplies the Theewaterskloof Dam, Cape Town’s largest dam. On this river I learnt about indigenous versus alien invasive trees.

5. The hero plant, Palmiet, slows down river flow to reduce degradation caused during flooding. They also hold water very well and can release water slowly when required.

Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa

6. Water is a shared responsibility; we need it in our daily lives as well as to maintain the levels of industry and agriculture on which SA’s economy and food security depends. The funding that corporates allocate towards organisations like the WWF, permit the phenomenal work they undertake and can continue to do to restore our degraded land and alien-infested areas to maximise water yield for our environment.

7. Only 16% of our water source areas are formally protected – water is not prioritised with the urgency it needs.

8. As much as we need to protect our water sources through responsible use of water, there is one element we cannot control directly – the sun. In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Vaal Dam had evaporation occurring that was higher than the total consumption of the metropolitan area of Johannesburg.

9. Cape Town is leading the way on the responsible water consumption behaviour. The Theewaterskloof Dam was sitting at 10% just a year ago. Due to responsible actions from Cape Town residents and eventual rainfall, it is now at 39%.

10. If you’re like me and wondering ‘we are surrounded by water why don’t we just use ocean water?’ The answer is that ocean water is too salty for human consumption and requires lengthy and very costly processes to desalinate the water.

11. The WWF has water as a core pillar to their work and you can access a lot of material through the charity. You can also learn which one of 22 strategic water sources in South Africa you draw from. In Johannesburg, the majority of the water comes from Maloti and Northern Drakensburg.

Visit www.journeyofwater.co.za and fill in your town to find out where your water comes from – because water does not come from a tap!

Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa

As informative as this trip was, it was also fun. I got to canoe down a river and zip line through the gorgeous Hottentots Holland’s Mountain, which is a main catchment area for Theewaterskloof Dam. I also met phenomenal people who dedicate their lives to conservation of our country: those are the real heroes!

WWF is promoting the need for more Water Source Partnerships to bring together communities, corporations, government, and non-profit organisations to tackle the challenges as a collective. Coca-Cola actively collaborates with partners in business, government and civil society to protect water availability and quality in SA.

Coca-Cola associate embarks on the journey of water

© Rob Rarr / WWF South Africa