The Coca-Cola Foundation has pledged to help restore the uMzimvubu catchment area in Matatiele, outside East London, as part of their Replenish Africa Initiative (Rain).
The project’s goal is to replenish at least 15 billion litres of water in areas affected by climate change over the next decade by removing invasive alien plants.
Matatiele is one of five areas in South Africa benefitting from the project, the other four being Wemmershoek Dam and the Wolseley Wetlands in the Western Cape, the Diep River by Nelson Mandela Bay and the Soutpansberg Mountains in Limpopo.
“These important water catchment areas feed our communities, towns and cities, yet thirsty alien invasive plants are consuming millions of litres of this precious resource unnecessarily from these areas each year,” said Coca-Cola chair and president Beatriz Perez.
“As part of our broader water stewardship programme, Rain is helping to rehabilitate thousands of hectares of land and replenish water while economically empowering families.”
The five projects received $1.25m (roughly R1,920,0613) in 2019 and a further $500,000 (R7,586,650) will be provided to the Greater Cape Town Water Fund, Matatiele and the Soutpansberg Mountain projects.
So far, local communities working with Rain have managed to clear over 3,000 hectares.
Perez also pointed out that the project was providing jobs to local communities, focusing on upskilling community members and providing support and training for sustainable economici opportunities.
She said so far 389 jobs have been created through Rain.
“As climate change disrupts the water system, affecting drinking water supplies, sanitation, food and energy production, the Coca-Cola Foundation and its local implementing partners are collaborating to facilitate strategic investments in South Africa’s key watersheds.
“These efforts will pay dividends with the optimisation of the country’s water supply in the future,” said Perez.