The United Nations (UN), every year, sets aside August 19th to pay respect to individuals and corporates who are dedicated to selflessly solving the challenges confronting humanity across the world.
This year’s World Humanitarian Day celebration focuses on the significance, efficacy, and positive effects of the thousands of volunteers, professionals, and crisis-affected individuals who provide immediate medical care, shelter, food, protection, water, and other essentials in keeping with the sustainable development goals of the UN.
Its importance in Africa is not neglected, as several humanity concerns range from access to good drinking water, waste management, and youth unemployment.
In Nigeria, access to safe and clean water remains a priority as over 86 percent of the population lack access to clean water. The average Nigerian has access to only nine liters of water daily. Decades of poor water management and misuse have resulted in water contamination worsened by increased demand due to population growth, industrialization, and urbanization. This, in turn, jeopardizes the health of Nigerians, economic and environmental development, and its future.
From statistical data gleaned from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ report titled, ‘World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision’, Nigeria is anticipated to become the world’s third most populous country by 2050, with over 300 million people.
Waste management is one of humanity’s oldest and most persistent problems. Nigeria currently generates nearly 32 million metric tons of waste annually, with an expected increase to 72.46 million tons by 2025, based on a daily rate of 0.85 kg per capita. This means that Nigeria’s annual waste generation will nearly equal her crude oil production, estimated to be 89.63 million annually.
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According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s unemployment rate remains at 53.40%, with women and youths dominating the statistics. The number of unemployed individuals will continue to rise as unskilled population growth outpaces output growth. As a result, the country misses out on a critical component of economic success.
Women are subjected to social and gender prejudice as a consequence of societal and political power abuse. It is believed that empowering them would be a game changer for the country’s well-being and environment since they control an increasing proportion of households and constitute the majority of urban and rural dwellers worldwide.
Nigeria would therefore fall short of the UN’s goals for sustainable development unless these highlighted issues are addressed properly.
The vulnerability of these population segments necessitates humanitarian intervention, which makes the various intervention initiatives of the Coca-Cola System in Nigeria worthy of celebration.
For years, Coca-Cola has incorporated the UN’s and the AU sustainability agenda into its operations. From boosting water use, efficiency and fostering environmental sustainability to the economic empowerment of women and youths, the organization has proactively implemented strategies to meet society’s evolving demands and expectations.
In 2021, The Coca-Cola Company and The Coca-Cola Foundation invested 2.0% of its operating income back into local communities, well above its annual target of 1% and over $1.4B+ donated by The Coca-Cola Foundation since inception to create shared value in communities around the world.
According to Nwamaka Onyemelukwe, Director, Public Affairs, Communications & Sustainability, Coca-Cola Nigeria, “Nigeria is a critical beneficiary of these investments. Coca-Cola Nigeria, the company’s philanthropic arm, The Coca-Cola Foundation, and its bottling partner, Nigerian Bottling Company, have donated over 3.4B naira in the last 5 years towards signature projects that improved livelihoods and human race. These projects have contributed immensely towards lifting over 550,000 women and youths out of poverty”.
In furtherance of these efforts, Coca-Cola Africa recently launched a new sustainability platform called JAMII. It is Africa-focused and aligned with the vision of The Coca-Cola Company, The Coca-Cola Foundation, bottling partners as well as the African Union’s Vision for Africa (i.e. Agenda 2063). JAMII seeks to consolidate Coca-Cola’s efforts under one umbrella platform and is focused on enhancing its value proposition as Coca-Cola to communities that are home to its world-class beverages. This means driving more effective partnerships, focusing on areas where the most impact can be made so that the company can be a sustainable partner for growth in Africa.
Projects under this sustainability platform focus on three strategic pillars – waste management, water stewardship, and economic empowerment of women and youth. The pillar for women and youth empowerment promotes and stimulates entrepreneurship opportunities through improved access to skills training and seed investment grants.
To support humanitarian efforts, the Coca-Cola System continues to dedicate its selfless service to the #HumanRace in solidarity of preserving the safety and dignity of people across Nigeria and the world.