Coca-Cola invests to protect South Africa’s Watersheds

28 June 2019


Coca-Cola invests in five projects to remove alien invasive plants and replenish water in South Africa’s key water catchment areas

With many South African towns and cities facing increased risk of water shortages, The Coca-Cola Foundation is investing USD 1.275M (approximately R18M) to replenish up to 2,800 million litres back into nature to address water security in the country’s key watersheds.

Through the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), The Coca-Cola Foundation is investing in five projects to remove ‘thirsty’ invasive alien plants from five main water catchment areas that feed major cities and towns across the country, helping to replenish precious water into nature.  Alien invasive plants consume millions of litres of water each year in these areas, resulting in water shortages and permanent loss to an already stressed water system.

Speaking at the launch of the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy said: “Government simply cannot do it alone and we need active private sector, community and citizen involvement.” 

“Over the next five years we must continue and grow our efforts. Firstly we need to work together to improve stream and river-related ecological infrastructure – by clearing invasive alien plant infestations, especially in mountain catchments and riparian areas. And by reinstating, restoring, rehabilitating and maintaining the buffers of natural vegetation along streams and rivers. Secondly we must improve wetland- and estuary-related ecological infrastructure through restoration and rehabilitation. Thirdly we must ensure that our programme to expand protected areas includes the formal protection of key catchment areas,” said Minister Creecy.

General Manager of the South African Franchise of The Coca-Cola Company, Luis Avellar added: “Apart from reducing water usage in our plants, we are investing in providing cost-effective solutions to managing water security in South Africa.  These investments in ‘ecological infrastructure’ are designed to address issues of water security upstream in watersheds, in cost effective and locally appropriate ways, rather than prohibitively expensive solutions downstream, such as groundwater extraction or desalination.” 

While each of the projects is geographically diverse, most catchment areas are remote and the projects support economic empowerment and skills development in rural areas across South Africa. In total, the projects will seek to clear more than 750 hectares of invasive alien plants and will employ 130 people, focusing on providing training, mentorship and job opportunities for women and youth. 

“The economic empowerment of vulnerable communities is a key element of our water stewardship efforts as we seek to contribute to job creation and inclusive growth in South Africa,” says Avellar.

The five new projects are spread across South Africa and focus on involving local communities, while addressing water security on a larger scale. The five implementing partners and projects are:

  1. The Nature Conservancy: Expansion of the alien invasive plant removal site for The Greater Cape Town Water Fund to the Wemmershoek Dam, serving the Greater Cape Town area 
  2. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa: Catchment restoration in the upper Umzimvubu, Matatiele in the Eastern Cape, serving East London 
  3. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa: Wetland rehabilitation with the Wolseley Water Users Association in the Western Cape, serving the Greater Cape Town area
  4. Living Lands: Invasive alien plant removal accompanied by landscape restoration in the Diep River of the Langkloof as part of The Algoa Water Fund for Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality 
  5. Endangered Wildlife Trust: Water Conservation in the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, serving towns such as Polokwane, Mokopane, Mookgopong, Modimolle, Louis Trichardt, Musina and Lephalale

This work builds on two other RAIN projects in South Africa. In 2018, The Coca-Cola Foundation provided seed funding for The Nature Conservancy’s Greater Cape Town Water Fund on the Atlantis Aquifer. This has since been expanded to employ more than 50 women and young people. This project will conclude at the end of 2019.

The Coca-Cola Foundation also invested in catchment restoration in the Baviaanskloof of the Eastern Cape with implementing partner, Living Lands. This work concluded in March 2019, successfully restoring 1,460 ha of degraded lands. On the back of the Foundation’s seed investment, Living Lands was able to raise funding to provide operational security for their Baviaanskloof work for five years. 

As climate change disrupts the water system, affecting drinking water supplies, sanitation, food and energy production, the Coca-Cola Foundation and its local implementing partners are leading the way in strategic investments to manage key watersheds to optimise the country’s water supply into the future.

“The most effective work happens when there is collaboration across the public and private spheres for the benefit of the local communities,” concludes Avellar.

About The Coca-Cola Foundation

The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company.  Since its inception in 1984, TCCF has awarded more than $900 million in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world.  More information about TCCF can be found here

About the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)

In response to the severe water challenges faced by nearly 300 million Africans living without access to clean water, Coca-Cola introduced RAIN in 2009. RAIN is Coca-Cola’s contribution to helping Africa achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access. To date, RAIN has reached more than 2.8 million people with improved water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across 41 countries. By the end of 2020, RAIN aims to measurably improve the lives of at least six (6) million people in Africa through sustainable WASH interventions.

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

About the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) 

WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organisations, with almost six million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. 

WWF-South Africa

WWF-South Africa is a national office that is part of the WWF network. We are a local NGO that for more than 40 years has worked towards the aim of inspiring all South Africans to live in harmony with nature, for the benefit of our country and the well-being of all our people. 

Visit: for more information or follow: @WWFSouthAfrica on Twitter 

About Living Lands 

Living Lands works in and is committed to the Baviaanskloof, Langkloof and Cape Town catchments. The work and projects are diverse, but the central vision of working towards living landscapes holds our course. Our work centers on collaborating with different stakeholders towards restoring degraded socio-ecological landscapes.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT)

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. It is a beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together.

To learn more, visit