By Amin Kef Sesay
On the 22nd March 2021, which was World Water Day, the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) handed over three solar mechanized boreholes to Calaba Town, Shell and Cola Tree Communities under the WASH Project that is being facilitated by Heineken Africa Foundation, Sierra Leone Brewery Limited through World Vision –Sierra Leone implementation.
World Water Day was celebrated on the 22nd March 2021 and its annual celebration commenced since 1992.
The theme for this year is “Valuing Water” with a campaign aimed at generating global, public conversation about how people value water for all its uses, with the objective to create a more comprehensive understanding of how water is valued by different people in different contexts in order to safeguard this precious resource for everyone.
The Sierra Leone Brewery Limited as a company analysed the theme “Valuing Water” as seen from 5 different perspectives: Water sources & ecosystem, Water infrastructure, Water services, Water as an input to production and socio-economic activity and Water for socio cultural aspects.
Within the operational area of the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, seeing all that the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages manufacturing company had been doing to help provide and protect this infinite resource (water) across various communities, the company is very proud to continue as an exemplary corporate citizen to the health of Sierra Leoneans by supporting private sector initiatives of such nature.
In his statement during the handing over occasion, the Corporate Affairs Manager of the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited, Albert Ojo Collier took the opportunity, on behalf of the Management of Sierra Leone Brewery Limited (SLBL) and Heineken Africa Foundation (HAF), to welcome all.
He furthered that it is indeed a great opportunity to witness the official handing over of three solar mechanized boreholes to Calaba Town, Shell and Kola-Tree Communities.
“This is an appropriate response on this great day (being World Water Day) as part of the WASH Response Project by the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation, Sierra Leone Brewery Limited and World Vision Sierra Leone to support communities in Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19,” he highlighted.
The Corporate Affairs Manager intimated that World Water Day is an annual United Nations observance focusing on the importance of freshwater, to celebrate the importance of water and raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.
He underscored that it is imperative to take action to tackle the global water crisis and support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
Albert Collier maintained that for their business, water means security, productivity and sustainability.
“We have made good progress worldwide and we have an opportunity to share our stories collectively on our own local and global channels in social media by leveraging on #ValueWater, #EveryDropMatters & #Water2Me hashtags,” he revealed.
HEINEKEN, he stated, works toward a healthy watershed at water-stressed areas by focusing on the three aspects of a water triangle – Stewardship, Efficiency and Circularity with focus on collective action.
He informed how they value and protect water all year round through holistic efforts especially in water-stressed areas for long term sustainability for their business and for the benefit of the surrounding communities.
The role of water, he stated, in households, schools, workplaces and health care facilities, is critical.
The Corporate Affairs Manager of SLBL said furthermore, WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – services also add value in the form of greater health, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic adding that the water cycle is their most important ‘ecosystem service’.
“Higher value must be given to protecting the environment to ensure a good quality water supply and build resilience to shocks such as flood and drought,” he recommended.
He pointed out that Water can connect us with notions of creation, religion and community furthering how water in natural spaces can help us feel at peace.
Ojo Collier noted that Water is an intrinsic part of every culture but the values we attribute to these functions are difficult to quantify or articulate.
He said Economics often consider water to be a resource for practical human usage and pays little or no attention to its socio-cultural or environmental value.
“There is a need to fully understand cultural values around water by involving a more diverse group of stakeholders in water resources management,” he asserted stating that today in their environment, seeing all that they have been doing to help provide and protect this infinite resource across various communities they are very proud to continue as an exemplary corporate citizen to the health of Sierra Leoneans by supporting private sector initiatives of that nature.
He revealed that the project, approved in 2020 by the HAF to help reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19 in Sierra Leone is worth € 210,625 (2.3 Billion Leones as at August 2020) to complement Government’s effort to improve WASH services in the country with objectives to scale up preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to strengthen health system and workers.
According to him, the project also focuses on informal settlements in Freetown that are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreak, targeting 500,000 people through behaviour-change messaging.
He said this is only phase one and as they speak, they are considering the modalities for the phase two partnership /sponsorship.
“Therefore, as we are all seeing, in implementing the project, World Vision has completed these three facilities for the provision of clean water; mechanized solar-powered boreholes and water trucking services in the communities mentioned,” he stated.
“For effective prevention and mitigation, World Vision is also working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to develop, print, and distribute social behaviour-change communication materials on COVID-19 and strengthen WASH promotion through community health workers at the household level, emphasizing key COVID-19 prevention messages with special focus on actions to improve hygiene practices,” the Corporate Affairs Manager told the audience.
He said World Vision will leverage its partnership with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to mobilize community health workers for community sensitization on the use of health facilities.
According to him such will help ensure effective infection prevention and control and meet the immediate health and non-health needs of vulnerable populations, including health workers, to prevent them from being infected with COVID-19 so that communities can continue using the health facilities during the outbreak.
He said as a partner for growth, they have to be steadfast in implementing the pledges they have made to improve the lives of people saying they are pleased that, so far, they have not renege from those commitments.
“We are continuously engaging all concerned with focused worthy and timely projects,” he assured.
The Corporate Affairs Manager stated that he is excited to report that their presence on the occasion, should serve as testimony to the sterling work they have committed themselves to as industry leader and true partner for development in Sierra Leone.
He said what they are witnessing indeed adds to the many good stories that the Sierra Leone Brewery Limited continues to tell to the people of this country as partners for growth and development.
“The good story of our continued Corporate Social Responsibility support is truly an iconic story that we must celebrate,” he said adding that they recommit themselves as a true corporate citizen and industry leader to continue the good work in order to reach even the remotest parts of communities.
He appealed to all to celebrate World Water Day with the thought that in many areas in the world and in this country people struggle daily to access water.
Quoting Benjamin Franklin, Ojo Collier said: “when the well is dry, we then learn the value of water!”
He admonished all that for this year, 2021, they should always have in mind the theme “Valuing Water “