Beer is one of the most popular recreational beverages in Zambia – enjoyed by thousands of people from different walks of life. Beer is good for social cohesion, bringing people together for a better world and as long as it is consumed in moderation and not abused.
Even at a time when we are not able to meet physically, beer continues to refresh our communities in the comfort of their homes The industry, which depends heavily on one of the planet’s most precious resources – water – contributes millions of Kwacha to the national economy while also being a significant employer.
In many parts of the world, however, water is becoming a scarce resource. If the prevailing global demand persists, the United Nations expects the world to face a 40 percent shortfall in freshwater supply within the next ten years.
Data from the World Bank shows that about 75 percent of freshwater resources are devoted to crop or livestock production. On top of this population growth, economic development and urbanisation are driving up demand – increasing pressure on water quality amid continued disruption of the water cycle by climate change.
It is no exaggeration to say that water is life and sanitation is health. Therefore, access to a clean sustainable supply is essential if we are to have healthy communities and thriving businesses.
For this reason as Zambia’s largest brewer, we believe that we have a responsibility to lead industry water stewardship efforts across the country. We have set aggressive targets to protect water resources in our facilities, especially in high-risk watersheds, and throughout our agricultural supply chain.
Zambian Breweries’ water strategy is focused on working within our brewery network; engaging out-grower schemes, non-profit organisations, Central and local Government to ensure as much water as possible is conserved throughout our value chain. Our water stewardship efforts are aimed at improving water efficiency in our plants and advancing water restoration efforts in all our areas of operation.
As part of the AB InBev group, our goal is to see 100 percent of our communities in high-stress areas have measurably improved water availability and quality by 2025.
To keep watersheds healthy and communities thriving, local water users including our plants – must replenish the water they use. This is the basis of our water stewardship goal.
Together with local authorities, other water users, and partners such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), we continue to invest financial and technical resources into green infrastructure initiatives, vital watershed protection, environmental conservation and reforestation projects, water capture as well as improved water infrastructure projects.
In 2019, Zambian Breweries donated US$30,000 towards the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) and, further, partnered with the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company (LWSC) in constructing a US$150,000 industrial water borehole in George Compound of Lusaka as part of the company’s 2025 Sustainability goal on water stewardship.
We also continue to work and engage with the local community and authorities in Ndola to ecologically sustain and secure the Itawa Water Springs. As part of the Itawa Springs initiative, Zambian Breweries, successfully, re-located twenty-eight (28) households and who had encroached on the ‘eye’ of the water springs and thereby risking the future water supply not only to themselves but also for the communities depending on the Kafubu stream in Ndola, Masaiti and parts of Luanshya. Close to US$1 million was spent on this initiative together with the support from GIZ.
These and many other water stewardship initiatives are there to ensure the continuity of our business and we will continue to support local employment and the economy at large without compromising the country’s water security.
Zambian Breweries is proud to be one of the leading private firms in Zambia’s water conservation agenda. As we do our part to protect one of Earth’s most precious resources, we would like to see other corporate entities and individuals alike come on board and help support this noble quest – Because without water, there can be no life. And no beer.
Ezekiel Sekele is the corporate affairs director at Zambian Breweries