December 17, 2018
This year’s industry awards were of a different nature; the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) included an inaugural award recognising water stewardship by the business community.
The inaugural winner of the 2018 National Water Stewardship award at a colorful gala dinner was Lusaka’s Fairy Bottling Company for continuously working on sustainable water management beyond their fence line and stringent implementation of the alliance for water Stewardship standard, a widely recognised universal framework for sustainable use of water.
The 2nd place and runner up award went to Zambian Breweries for contributing towards securing health water ecosystems and improving access to clean drinking water for vulnerable communities.
The elated Fairy Bottling Chief Executive Officer Mohamed el Sahili stressed the business imperative for water stewardship.
“Companies worldwide are now increasingly appreciating that water is an essential raw material in their business operations and the lack of access to adequate or good quality water is posing a huge risk to a lot of businesses particularly those which are water reliant, Dr El Sahili said.
He added that without consistent access to clean water, businesses may face higher expenditure on water treatment as legislation and legal enforcement tighten; possible relocation of operations to sites where water is readily available; and increased operating costs.
Dr El Sahili observed that a balancing act to ensure equity in water use between business and social needs is urgently required.
For Zambian Breweries, a subsidiary of south American brewing giant AB-Inbev, the award is a reflection that the company’s efforts towards sustainable use of water resources are being appreciated ‘by industry and beyond.’
“This is very encouraging and we are humbled. We are very delighted that our efforts are being recognised,” said Ezekiel Sekele, Zambian Breweries Director of Corporate Affairs.
“We didn’t even know that we were being watched,” Mr Sekele said.
He added that water stewardship is one way in which the brewery could contribute to a better society.
“To us, water stewardship is about water security for the business and beyond. We want to bring people together for a better country through water stewardship,” Mr Sekele said.
“Our business is about water. Without water, there is no Zambian Breweries,” he said. “I am very happy that Fairy Bottling and Zambian Breweries have been recognised for their commitment to water stewardship and working with communities.
We cannot manage economic growth without sustainable management of water resources,” said Robin Farrington, Country Co-ordinator of the International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP) of GIZ.
Mr Farrington urged more companies to come on board in embracing sustainable use of water resources.
“We need masses to see that it makes business sense to look after water just like it makes sense to clean our teeth.
We need collective efforts across all sectors to ensure water security,” he said.
And minister in the Office of the Vice President, Sylvia Chalikosa underscored the importance of embracing sustainability.
Ms Chalikosa noted that for meaningful economic development to be realised, sustainability must be built on the bedrock of a strong and vibrant private sector which is not only profit driven, but also concerned about the socio-economic status of ordinary people.
“We recognise that for us to continue meeting the needs of our people now, and the needs of the future generation, growth must be both inclusive and environmentally sound as this is the most sure way to reduce poverty and build prosperous communities for today’s and future populations,” she said.
The Zambia National Water Stewardship Award was established by the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI), a multi-stakeholder collaboration motivated by and working toward the vision of water secure Lusaka for residents and businesses, in an effort to highlight the business case for prudent management of water resources by companies.
The first ever award in Zambia that focuses on water conservation and responsible use of water, was launched at Fringilla Lodge in Chisamba, a farming district about 50 km north of Lusaka in January this year and is intended to promote, incentivise and recognize good corporate water stewardship amongst water using companies in Zambia.
The award also seeks to inspire companies to use water resources more sustainably in line with international best practice and standards, and to motivate companies to comply with Zambian water and environmental regulations.
It also seeks to provide an opportunity for water using companies to better align with national and global water development goals.
The award is hosted by ZACCI and will be awarded on an annual basis starting in November this year to leading companies that demonstrate sustainable water use in line with international best practice.
The award is a project within the LuWSI, managed by a project task team led by Action for Water, a local non-governmental organization (NGO) advocating sustainable water resource management.