The United Nations Human Settlement Programme, UN-Habitat and cola giant Coca Cola signed a three-year agreement Tuesday for better community access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation in India and Nepal with an investment of $300,000.
The project in India will be implemented in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Working in association with local non-government organisations (NGOs), the scheme aims at introducing rain water harvesting (RWH) system in various schools in different areas of these two states.
The UN Habitat has identified 15 locations in Madhya Pradesh, where the RWH system will be set up. Out of these, the system will be set up in 10 schools to give children access to clean drinking water, said Kulwant Singh, chief technical advisor of the UN Habitat, Delhi.
Other techniques that will help people store and conserve water will also be implemented.
The project in West Bengal aims at supplying safe potable water to the people by setting up similar systems in 150 schools.
"Most of West Bengal is drought-prone and there are certain areas which have a high amount of pollutants in the water. Hence we, in association with Coca Cola, decided to implement this project there, besides Madhya Pradesh with similar problems," Singh said in a press meet here.
Meanwhile, the project in Nepal would aim at improving water management in the country by giving the people access to potable water through the WHO (World Health Organisation)-approved purification methods, he said.
There will also be extensive awareness campaign on sanitation. In all, they will work in five areas in Nepal with a population of approximately three million people.
Talking about Coca Cola's involvement in the project, Deepak Jolly, vice president for public affairs and communication of Coca Cola, said the corporate social responsibility wing of the company has always been involved in activities that benefit the society at large.
While initial phases of the project have already kicked off in parts of Madhya Pradesh and Nepal, the full-fledged work will start in six weeks after a steering committee is put in place.
"The project will benefit more than a 100,000 people both in India and Nepal of which 75,000 children will benefit directly thanks to the RWH systems in schools.
"And since we will be working in association with local NGOs and the people, it will open up employment opportunities as well," Singh said.
He also added that the system adopted is cost effective.