ASTANA – Earth is our Home, the programme for Kazakh water resources management, was launched on Oct. 8. As part of this project, international organisations represented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kazakhstan and the Coca-Cola Company, with the support of the Kazakh Ministry of Agriculture, made a commitment to assist in addressing the global challenge, which the country is already facing – the effective management of water resources and provision of access to quality drinking water.
By 2025, there will be the potential danger of an acute shortage of water resources. As Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev noted, “Water is becoming an important factor in geopolitics, being one of the causes of tensions and conflicts in the world.”
The Earth is our Home programme proposed by the organisers combines the efforts of the state, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and businesses in order to address a number of issues that are vital and relevant to the Kazakh people. The programme provides for small- and medium-sized pilot projects on water resources management through grant assistance from NGOs dealing with water supply problems. The programme is also designed to support innovative initiatives that are aimed at optimising the technology to improve the efficiency of the water sector. By next year, the result will be a significant increase in the number of people with access to safe drinking water in the most-vulnerable rural areas of Kazakhstan.
“The problem of access to water is acute in our country. A serious problem is the low level of public awareness about the opportunities through which effective methods of saving water are available. Together, we can strengthen the capacity of local communities to increase access to safe drinking water to the vulnerable population and also tell people about effective measures and conservation of water resources,” said Stanislav Kim, head of the Department of Environment and Energy, UNDP Kazakhstan.
“The project which we have presented here is part of a global initiative and will be implemented in 21 countries of the world. It is still in the pilot phase. However, under this initiative, we are more focused on involvement of the population in the solution of these problems, i.e. identifying some approaches by which they will be directly involved in tackling the problem of water supply and ensuring its quality,” he noted.
According to Kim, it is necessary to work on the approaches through grants, which will be decided by UNDP with the financial support of Coca-Cola. The size of the grants will be up to $150,000. Non-profit and non-governmental organisations can participate in the programme by proposing ideas. Regular grant contests will be announced, to which all interested parties may submit applications and an independent commission will decide which projects to support.
The focus of the Earth is our Home on the promotion of modern and technologically-advanced methods to improve water quality, as well as the ways to save it, is timely and relevant. Thus, timely establishment of such an initiative will help to solve the task set by Nazarbayev to provide all the people in Kazakhstan with quality drinking water, the importance of which was noted in his state of the nation address, “Strategy Kazakhstan 2050, a New Political Course of the Established State.”
Such significant projects are being implemented not only by the state and public organisations, but are also actively promoted by Coca-Cola, the largest manufacturer of beverages.
“The importance of water for the health of society as a whole is difficult to overestimate,” said Oleg Piletsky, the company’s manager for government and public affairs in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus.
“The whole world today is experiencing difficulties in relation to water resources. In many countries there is an acute shortage of safe drinking water. We believe that working together with other companies, governments and NGOs can help solve water problems faced by the entire world. Water is a basic ingredient of our drinks. If the society in which we work is environmentally unstable, our business becomes unstable as well. It is important for us to participate in this project, because doing business is possible only in a healthy society. And we will do our best and use our experience and knowledge to provide full support for the implementation of this programme,” Piletsky noted.
According to the Coca-Cola representative, the main objective is to return the amount of water used in the production of its beverages to nature by 2020. In order to perform such an ambitious goal, Coca-Cola is implementing a number of initiatives around the world related to the management of water resources. With the support of Coca-Cola, projects such as drip irrigation in the Akmola region, creation of green package training for schoolchildren in the Caspian region the improvement of groundwater quality and the provision of it in the Almaty region have been implemented in Kazakhstan during the past several years. By combining the efforts of the government, NGOs and the business community with the support of Coca-Cola, Earth is Our Home will work on improving existing public programmes, as well as achieving meaningful indicators for new social initiatives.