By Sarah Wakefield, Sustainable Sourcing & Fairtrade Manager

It’s estimated that over 785 million people across the globe don’t have access to safe and clean water. That’s more than the population of the whole of Europe.

This week is World Water Week, a time to remind ourselves of the ongoing water crisis in many developing countries. Access to basic hygiene and sanitation is key to reducing the spread of coronavirus and many other diseases which just shows why now it’s more important than ever.

Water is a fundamental human right. On average, every adult needs over 2 litres a day to stay hydrated and healthy. It’s easy for many of us – we can turn on a tap and have unlimited access to water without even thinking about it. 

Millions rely on donations and aid efforts just to survive each passing day, and sadly, over 3.4 million people die of waterborne diseases every year. 

Co-operating to end water poverty

Since 2007, we’ve donated 3p per litre of Co-op branded water sold to The One Foundation. Together, we’ve spent 13 years investing in clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects around the world. To date, we’ve raised over £12.3 million from own brand water sales which has brought clean water and improved sanitation to over 2.2m people. Plus, 50% of the money raised supports projects in Co-op Fairtrade producer communities too. 

Our commitment doesn’t stop there though. In 2017, we expanded our donations to include branded water. For every 1 litre of branded water sold, we donate 1p to Water Unite, and within three years, that’s equated to an additional £2 million raised. Water Unite is on a mission to end global water poverty by 2030, but they’ll need to raise billions of dollars to succeed. We’re proud to be part of this global movement and supporting their efforts to end water poverty.

Changing lives

Access to clean and safe water is a matter of life and death to millions. Our partnerships with The One Foundation and Water Unite means that every bottle of water bought in a Co-op store helps support clean water projects and helps change lives. 

When you buy Co-op branded water, it means we can help provide emergency water access to humanitarian crises (of which there were 3 in 2019 alone). We can also help to support the construction of piped water systems in local communities, as well as rain water harvesting systems and safe toilets with plumbing in schools for over 8000 children.

On top of this, as part of our Wellbeing Charter, we’ve also committed to spend £647k to support clean water and sanitation projects in global communities to help tackle the spread and impact of coronavirus.

Together, we can co-operate for a fairer world, where everyone can have access to safe, clean water and sanitation facilities.