25 communities in Imo State will benefit from a new partnership between The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF), the Rural Africa Water Development Project (RAWDP) and the Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction and Urban Resilience (IDRRUR), to increase water security in the state.

The ‘Resilient Watershed for All’ initiative will support the State’s Water Corporation Board and the social and economic development of 25 communities within the state, all of which depend on the Otamiri River as a critical water source.

The community-based interventions focus on watershed governance, sanitising and protecting watershed sources through the conservation of forest and woodland ecosystems. It attempts to provide long-term access to clean water and lower the prevalence of water-borne illnesses.

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Similarly, the project addresses several important challenges faced by these communities such as inadequate access to clean drinking water caused by the degradation of the significant Otamiri watershed; low awareness levels of the importance of, and capacity for, watershed management; insufficient capacity of the communities to sustainably manage the watershed; and loss of biodiversity and forest cover caused by high levels of deforestation.

Speaking to the project’s significance, the President of The Coca-Cola Foundation, Saadia Madsbjerg, remarked saying, We are dedicated to enhancing the resilience of vulnerable communities by promoting sustainable access to safe water. We take pride in collaborating with strategic partners and stakeholders to amplify our impact and efficacy.

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Over a 24-month period, this project is set to reach a total of 2.5 million people across the three urban local government areas of Owerri North, Owerri West and Owerri Municipal LGAs of Imo State. This intervention will restore and replenish over 15,000m3 of riparian landscape using nature-based solutions especially riparian buffers on the riverbank.

To sustain this, the initiative will mainstream asset management into the management of these water facilities to guarantee longevity and sustainability of this impact investment. The project will also accelerate community impact by prioritising sustainability and ensuring that key inputs to unlock sustainability gains are optimised.

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On the project aspirations, Ogechi Enekwa, Executive Director, Rural Africa Water Development Initiative noted that, “The Resilient Watershed for all project holds great promise, not only for the watersheds but also for the countless communities and individuals who depend on them. Through innovative strategies and collaborative efforts, we aim to enhance the resilience of our watersheds, ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come”.

“By adopting nature-based solutions, implementing robust water management practices, and fostering community engagement, we can safeguard our precious water resources in the target communities”, she added.

The Coca-Cola Foundation continues to improve access to safe water, facilitating sanitation and reliable protection of natural water resources in Nigeria through meaningful partnerships with the government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and local communities.