Swiss food and beverage giant Nestlé, which last year acquired Abyssinia Spring Water, started Wednesday providing potable water to some 5,000 residents in the Sululta area of Oromia Regional State. It is part of Nestlé’s corporate social responsibility scheme, dubbed Nestlé Waters Creating Shared Value (CSV).
In attendance at the inauguration of the water point were senior company staff and prominent guests, including Athlete Haile Gebresilassie and Mayor of Sululta Muna Muhammed.
According to Nestlé officials, by installing the potable water faucet, the company was making good on the pledge it made upon taking over the business from Abyssinia Spring Water.
On the same occasion, the company also officially launched its portion of the WASH Project which was being implemented for the last two years in partnership with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) that includes water well maintenance and upgrading under the municipality of the town.
Nestlé has already allocated over 191,147 Swiss Francs for the project. According to Nestlé Water Ethiopia (NWE) CSV Manager Betty Hailu, the project is part of Nestlé’s social commitment that it had agreed earlier on to implement “all measures necessary to ensure sustainable management of the water resources in close cooperation with the local community, and with the goal of creating shared value which guides all engagement within the Nestlé Group”.
In a welcoming address, Deputy Director of ERCS, Engida Manderfro told participants the CSV project of NWE is part and parcel of vulnerability mitigating projects that are already implemented across the country by ERCS.
Commending the company for providing the community with clean water, he added that, “besides profit making, we have to think about social responsibility and the community as a whole”.
“Because, as long as we are not serving the community around the plant, the very reason why the company is established here will be in question,” he added, calling on other companies to emulate Nestlé.
He also noted that the latest project, as agreed with Nestlé, is a pilot project designated for two years and may be extended based on its effectiveness during its very first implementation stage.
In a remark delivered at the launching of the WASH project, Athlete Haile Gebresilassie hailed Nestlé for their “self-driven” commitment to contribute to the welfare of the community besides the investment, which already “has brought various benefits for Sululta and surrounding residents in terms of job opportunities.”
More importantly, he added, “I have to appreciate the company and am proud of you for showing responsibility, particularly your contribution for the well-being of our environment”.
In her brief remark, Mayor Muna praised Nestlé’s officials for the company’s “pioneer” projects from private companies in the town – assisting the communities near the factory as well as similar other projects in two schools.
Nestlé Waters is the bottled water division of Nestlé Group based in Switzerland. It is the number one bottled water company in the world and currently operates in 33 African nations, including in Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Ethiopia.
NWE is one of the natural spring water brands on the market with a 10 percent share.