Coca Cola, Others Back Africa’s First ‘Water Fund’ In Kenya

Coca Cola, Others Back Africa’s First ‘Water Fund’ In Kenya

Kenya will host Africa’s first ever ‘water fund’ will provide water to more than 9.3 million people in the East African nation.

The fund, which is a replica of an existing program in South America, is backed by Coca Cola,  the East African Breweries, Kenya Electricity Generating Co. (KenGen) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) among others.

“This is the first such activity that is being done on this continent and we hope to role it in other countries in Africa,” Munira Bashir, TNC Kenya program director, said as she opened the launch of Tana-Nairobi Water Fund in Nairobi.

“We have interests from Lusaka [Zambia] who are looking upon Nairobi to see how we are going to do it.”

The fund aims to increase farm productivity upstream, while improving water supply and cutting costs of hydropower and clean water for users downstream, and is designed to generate $21.5 million in long-term benefits to Kenyan farmers and businesses.

“$10 million on 10 years”

Fred Kihara, TNC’s Kenya representative, said the fund plan to raise $10 million over 10 years. This will start by creating an endowment fund by the year 2020.

Nairobi, the largest city in Eastern and Central Africa, gets 95 percent of its water from the Tana river whose source has been encroached by farmers who’ve cut down trees and increased sedimentation downstream.

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“The reason why we decided to put it in Nairobi is because it will be a challenge to many other people … in sub-Saharan Africa,” Kihara said.

The fund will enable downstream users, such as Coca-Cola, East African Breweries, and KenGen to pay farmers upstream to protect the upper watershed by planting trees along river banks, terracing on very steep slopes, soil conservation schemes and drip irrigation within the catchment areas expected to significantly curb soil erosion.

These, Kihara said, will cut soil sediment concentrations in half and save on the cost of water treatment downstream by over 30 percent.

Coca Cola has already invested $35 million in Africa over the last five years, with $2 million going to Kenya alone, in water conservation, the firm’s public affairs and government relations manager Bob Okello said.

“We are not experimenting in Nairobi. We are bringing a real track record of success that The Nature Conservancy is involved wit as well as over 120 partners,” Daniel Shemie, TNC global water fund director, said.