A young boy smiles at the camera in Kabirwala, Pakistan, while his father looks on happily, as they collect clean drinking water. It’s an image that I love, one that motivates me in my work on water as Assistant Public Affairs Manager at Nestlé Pakistan.
We can’t take water for granted
Ammar, that’s the boy’s name, and his father, were benefiting from a facility that we built to provide people with free access to clean drinking water, near our factory in Kabirwala. It’s one of the six facilities that we’ve built across Pakistan in recent years.
I find this photo moving because it shows a scene (access to clean, safe water), that so many of us take for granted. But we can’t afford to do so. Water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population, and the United Nations (UN) estimates that recurring water shortages will affect at least one in four of us by 2050.
My country, Pakistan, faces acute water shortages, and ranks fourth highest in the world in terms of water use. Our ‘water intensity rate’ (how much is used to create a good or service), is the highest in the world, which suggests the economy is water intensive. Pakistan’s water availability per person is falling every year.
Clean water and sanitation for 60,000
Water is essential for life, and we strongly believe that access to water is a basic human right. Everyone, everywhere, should have access to water. Guided by our values rooted in respect, Nestlé Pakistan is supporting the communities we operate in by providing water and sanitation to over 60,000 people every day.
This is just one of the ways Nestlé is Caring for Water (C4W), and I’ve chosen to highlight it because the theme of World Water Week this year is ‘water for society’, which ladders-up to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation.
Water is also essential for our business. We need sustainable water access to grow the ingredients we use in our foods and beverages and to run our factories, while consumers need water to prepare our products.
At a global level, beyond providing water and sanitation to people in many countries, Nestlé is doing more to reduce, reuse and recycle water in our factories and to help farmers manage water more efficiently in our agricultural supply chain. We’re also working with partners to manage local watersheds sustainably.
Credible third-party validation
Water is a shared and precious resource. We need to ensure that we manage it sustainably, working with and for all water users. Nestlé is committed to working with everyone (from local people, farmers and suppliers, governments, NGOs, universities and civil society) to achieve this goal.
What does this mean on the ground?
Well, we have certified all our factories in accordance with the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard. All of our factories in Sheikhupura, Islamabad, Kabirwala and Port Qasim are certified by the AWS Standard. This is an international standard for freshwater resources that guides organizations to manage water by taking site and catchment initiatives through stakeholder inclusive processes.
This international standard guides organizations on how to improve water efficiency, both on- and offsite, and it provides credible, third-party endorsement of Nestlé’s water stewardship practices worldwide.
Saving water with drip irrigation
Additionally, we are working with stakeholders to promote drip irrigation that guards against over- and under-irrigation. This has led us to savings of about 428 million liters across 152 acres of land.
We’ve forged partnerships with Agriculture Department, Government of Punjab, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences (UVAS) and the Mango Research Institute (MRI) – to explore efficient water use and increase yields using drip irrigation.
Partnering with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), we’ve also helped develop smart soil sensors that save water and increase productivity by reducing the chance of under or over-irrigation.
So within Nestlé Pakistan we’re working hard, and our actions mirror those of our colleagues across 85 countries across the world where the company produces products. Our work continues, and beyond Nestlé we’ll continue to act with others, to ensure that we steward water for future generations.
By doing so we will put all our efforts to ensure safe and clean drinking water for young boys like Ammar and his friends – and for everyone in the communities where we operate.