Danone Aqua’s Clean Water Access and Environmental Health program provides examples of how the company has committed to helping local communities access clean water.
Looking at the fact that there are many communities in regions nationwide still facing the difficulty in accessing clean water, Danone Aqua proposed to realize the program to the 2009 UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Awards.
Planned and implemented in accordance with the necessity and assessment in a number of local communities, the program took Danone Aqua to triumph MDGs Awards in the category Environmental Sustainability.
“The value of an award is a mark of acknowledgement, but the value of how the program can benefit the needed communities is worth more,” Yann Brault, Danone Aqua’s sustainable development director, said.
As part of undertaking the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programs, Danone Aqua has taken a step through the Clean Water Access and Environmental Health program, which is often referred as WASH (Water Access, Sanitation and Hygiene) program.
“WASH is a community based program to improve the health of thousands of Indonesian families. Together with local government and NGO, we work to improve the condition that is due to water shortage and poor water management,” Yann explained.
There are three big activities emphasized in the WASH program; empowering local communities surrounding the Aqua factories, building access to clean water in East Nusa Tenggara and providing environment sanitation in urban slum communities.
In spite of focusing on the three big activities, the WASH program has a wider range of other activities such as education and campaign on healthy life, empowering scavengers communities, building water access facilities and sanitation infrastructure and conservation; all of which are the solution to the critical issue of accessing clean water in Indonesia.
With around 30,000 beneficiaries enjoying the improved hygiene practices, the WASH program has proven to be effective. “Using community based approach, we have witnessed the improvements in clean water access and sanitation facilities in regions of Serang, Bogor, Bekasi, Sukabumi, East Nusa Tenggar, to name a few,” Yann remarked.
The CSR program conducted by Danone Aqua Mekarsari in Kampung Dermaga is one of the examples of how a community based approach has effectively built a solid teamwork in the village.
The team has done a good job in educating local community. In fact, the initiative for building clean water access and sanitation facilities came from the villagers.
It was difficult to get clean water in Kampung Dermaga before the CSR program started in 2007. People got used to living with unhygienic sanitation habits where they did activities like bathing and washing their laundries using the same source of unclean water.
“They have a healthy lifestyle now. With a lot of quantity and good quality of clean water available, hundreds of villagers have better awareness of the importance of living a healthy life,” Yann remarked.
Ensuring sustainable development through social, economical and environmental performance, Danone Aqua’s CSR’s approach includes not only water resources protection and local communities’ empowerment, but also conservation.
Having the partnership with national park, local government and Al-Amin Pesantren, Danone Aqua has succeeded in building innovative agro forestry models through the company’s Gunung Salak Lestari Program.
In addition to protecting the conservation forests, the program supports local farmers by giving them capital to plant trees at productive community forest. “This year, we are getting 70,000 of Sengon and Suren trees planted and 37,000 of Puspa trees planted,” Yann said adding, “Nationwide, we are targeting 200 thousand trees planted.”
There are quite demand for those trees in the market as they can be used for building construction and furniture.
Optimistic to make a positive change through societal innovations, Danone Aqua has been bestowed three other accolades this year besides the one from MDGs Awards; they are Dan Innovative Awards from Danone under Supporting Life for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Program and Wana Lestari Awards from Ministry of Forestry and North Sulawesi Province.
“Those awards are not only an appreciation, but a reminder that we should work harder to achieve a better target in the future,” Yann said.
He added that building environmental sustainability should also be the responsibility of every individual in the communities. “We wouldn’t able to help without the support of other participants like NGO, members of a community and of course the government.”
This advertorial is published in The Jakarta Post on Dec. 17, 2009.