By Emily Pearce, Senior Sustainable Sourcing and International Development Manager

Co-op has today, on World Water Day, announced its customers and members have raised over £15 million to date to clean water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) projects, through its partnership with The One Foundation.

Co-op is the only UK retailer with own brand charity water – with nearly 7,500 convenience stores, including independent retailers supplied by Co-op, are raising funds through water sales, with 3p of every litre sold going to The One Foundation. 50% of the money raised for The One Foundation supports projects in Co-op Fairtrade producer communities too, providing WASH into sourcing locations.

Furthermore, as a pioneer partner to Water Unite, Co-op donates 1p of every litre of branded water to support clean water projects together with our branded suppliers.

This is part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals initiative to end water poverty by 2030 through the funding of water, sanitation, and hygiene projects by applying a micro-levy to bottled water sales globally and sales from Co-op has reached more than 2.4m lives.

It’s estimated that nearly 800 million people globally still lack access to safe, drinking water and a third of global population do not have access to basic sanitation.

Water is a fundamental human right yet hundreds of millions of people globally still lack access to safe drinking water. Access to basic hygiene and sanitation is key and has become even more important than ever over the last few years as it’s essential in reducing the spread of coronavirus and many other diseases.

Global demand for water is projected by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to increase by 50 per cent by 2030 and the UN projects a 40 per cent global water shortfall by 2030. Water security is one of the most material climate-related risks related to the food industry and the latest IPCC Report indicates that 3.5 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate impacts and half the world’s population suffers severe water shortages at some point each year.

As part of its Global Wellbeing Charter, Co-op repurposed £647,000 of funding to clean water and sanitation projects to help tackle the spread and impact of COVID-19. This supported the construction of public and school toilet blocks in Fairtrade Cocoa growing communities in the Ashanti region of Ghana, as well as drilling and repair of solar pumps in three health centres in Fairtrade tea growing region of Malawi. Water systems were also strengthened in Fairtrade sugar growing region of Kasinthula, Malawi and the sanitation systems in low-income communities in Nairobi Informal Settlements.

We’re proud to support this global movement, because we know we can co-operate for a fairer world and together, can make sure everyone has water security. Find out more about our approach to water here.