One reason why WaterAid are reluctant to engage

WaterAid graph

There has been a lot of activity going on behind the scenes recently in our efforts to get an international NGO to engage with the Coca-Cola Campaign. As I have indicated on the Facebook Group this is going to be a challenge.

The biggest leap forward came yesterday from an extremely helpful person in DfID who highlighted a WaterAid Report that was published on Monday (7/7/08) to coincide with the G8 Summit.

Above is a scan of page 6 of the report. As you can see, Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) are the highest cost intervention when it comes to extending children’s lives BUT hygiene and sanitation promotion are at the top. We have always said, and I have said it in all of the interviews I have given, that education and awareness raising are just as important in this campaign as anything else. Now we have the data to show that.

LESSONS LEARNT: We need to be far more careful in our approach to NGOs. The two-sentence description of what we are doing is not enough. We need to spell out that we are not just about distributing ORS, we are about raising awareness of hygiene and sanitation issues as well. And ORS through Coca-Cola crates is potentailly a very effective way of doing this.

In my interview with Eddie Mair, I said (and I paraphrase) “It’s not as if people in the remote parts of Africa are crying out for rehydration salts. Many would not know what they are or how to use them. But ORS salts arriving in Coca-Cola crates would generate questions. ‘That’s not Coke? What is it?'”.

For this reason we have said that the ORS needs to be _inside_ the crates and they need to carry messages. They should be the UK equivalent of the plastic toy in the cereal packet. In addition, Coca-Cola agreeing to do this in a particular locality, may just be the stimulus that the local institutions need to form the foundation of a local campaign.

Right. WaterAid. Here I come again . . .


  1. Two thoughts Simon.

    – maybe one of the reasons ORS were so far down the list was that currently its not seen as cost effective as other interventions to distribute. If C-C were helping with the channel this would surely raise the effectiveness and lower the cost?

    – this set-back takes nothing away from the purpose of the campaign. There is a distribution channel already set-up which could have one space for something other than C-C. This space could be filled with Water Purification Tablets, leaflets, booklets or other educational resources that will save lives.

    The report says urgent action is needed to strengthen the capacity of the aid system and that there is an awful problem that a solution is needed for; we have a solution and there could be spare capacity – we just need to take the right answer to these people.