Beverage company Coca-Cola recognizes the importance of safe water for hand hygiene in underserved communities especially in a pandemic. Through its social investment arm in the country, Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines Inc. (CCFPI), they have provided handwashing facilities and information materials in several locations in the country.
CCFPI, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the local governments of Cagayan De Oro City and Tagbilaran City, has funded the installation of 31 handwashing facilities in 29 sites in March. These locations include high-traffic areas such as public markets, parks and transport terminals.
“We, at Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, are one with our partners in valuing water as a very important resource in our community. Now more than ever, our commitment to safe water access, particularly handwashing facilities in the country has grown stronger. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to promote awareness on proper hand hygiene for all,” said CCFPI president Cecile Alcantara.
Despite being an archipelago, water access in the country remains inequitable with 2017 data from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) showing that access to at least basic water services in the regions ranges from 62 percent to 100 percent. Some 20 million Filipinos are also still lacking access to basic sanitation facilities. Poor sanitation including lack of soap and water for handwashing puts people’s health at risk for diseases like diarrhea, COVID-19, and other diseases.
“Water and sanitation measures are key to poverty reduction, economic growth, and environmental sustainability,” said USAID/SURGE chief of party Serge Andal Jr., explaining the importance of having clean water access for all.
A total of 141 handwashing stations nationwide in high traffic public areas have also been put in place by Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines, local bottler CCBPI, and partners, USAID and Water & Life Philippines. Working closely with local government, the organizations aim to promote proper handwashing, hygiene and sanitation in communities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases.
Meanwhile, The Coca-Cola Foundation (global) has also provided a grant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for safe water access to at least 45,000 internally displaced persons in communities in Mindanao.