Fresh water crisis after KZN floods summons huge relief effort from Coca-Cola bottler

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JOHANNESBURG, 11 May 2022 – Parts of KwaZulu-Natal hit by the devastating recent floods are still battling to secure fresh water amid fears of contamination and the spread of infections and diseases.

Provincial authorities have warned that the supply of fresh water remain a severe challenge a month after floods ripped through the province, claiming the lives of at least 448 people, leaving thousands more homeless, and leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is among a number of corporates as well as relief organisations who are responding to the call to provide fresh water. CCBSA has committed to donating 50,000 cases of bottled water from its manufacturing plant in Phoenix.

Essential infrastructure, including water and sewerage treatment plants, were washed away in the floods, resulting in river systems in the eThekwini district having significantly high percentages of water contamination.

Authorities and relief organisations have warned that high contamination levels pose a serious threat to people’s health, with the risk of potential outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera.

Municipal officials are scrambling to replace and repair key infrastructure in the region, particularly along eThekwini’s north coast which includes Tongaat and Verulam, where some residents have been without access to tap water for three weeks.

CCBSA delivered 10 000 cases of special 2.2l water bottles to relief organisation Gift of the Givers at the end of April and 13 000 cases were directly delivered to communities by CCBSA teams.

 “We recognise the dire situation regarding fresh water and are doing everything we can to assist relief efforts and to prevent a secondary disaster due to lack of fresh water for hygiene and cooking purposes.” Said CCBSA’s Regional Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability Manager, Nolundi Mzimba.

Gift of the Givers’ Badr Kazi said: “There has been such goodwill from all over South Africa as ordinary people and businesses large and small have come together to donate millions of litres of fresh water. Among those who have made this commitment are Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa and they continue to produce fresh bottled water for distribution to affected areas and we urge everyone to not let up.”

Fresh water is part of an almost R3 million relief contribution by CCBSA which also includes R500,000 to GotG for the provision of food parcels, blankets, and clothes to vulnerable and affected households.

CCBSA has provided relief to some of the hardest hit communities such as Phoenix, Inanda, Tongaat, Ntuzuma and KwaMashu, while teams of CCBSA employees and other volunteers have also engaged in clean-up operations along parts of the devastated eThekwini coastline which saw hundreds of tons of waste deposited on the shoreline by the floodwaters and forced the temporary closure of some beaches due to health and safety concerns. CCBSA has committed a three-month long clean-up campaign to assist in clean-up operations.

Government assessments of the flood has identified damage to key wastewater treatment plants and sanitation infrastructure, leading to sewage and other heavy pollution flowing into the systems of key rivers including the Umlazi, Tongaat and Isipingo.

“We will continue to provide support where needed as our collective efforts will go a long way towards making a difference and helping our compatriots rebuild their lives,” added Mzimba.

ENDS

About CCBSA

Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA) is a proudly South African company which began operating as a legal entity in July 2016, after the merger of six non-alcoholic ready to drink bottling operations. We are level 1 B-BBEE empowered company. We employ over 7000 people at 13 manufacturing facilities across the country. As a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) and a bottler for The Coca-Cola Company, our vision is to refresh Africa every day and make our continent a better place for all. We manufacture and distribute Coca-Cola beverages that make life’s everyday moments more enjoyable, while doing business the right way. The result is shared opportunity for our customers, our employees, our communities, and our shareholders. We conduct our business ethically, transparently, and conscientiously. We espouse an inclusive business culture to reflect our African identity. We accelerate sustainable, profitable revenue growth across all categories and offer an innovative portfolio of products that respond to customer needs and consumer preferences. Profitability is important, but not at any cost. People matter. Our planet matters. We do business the right way by following our values and partnering for solutions that benefit us all.

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