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Clean water for one million people in Africa thanks to The Co-operative


Co-operative and Somerfield customers are providing fresh, clean drinking water for one million people in Africa.

The milestone comes just three years after The Co-operative partnered with the One Foundation*, which provides innovative PlayPump® water systems in Africa, to bring life-saving water to some of the poorest and most remote communities in the world.Play Pump

Whilst most people in the UK take water for granted, a staggering one billion people in the world don’t have access to clean water and two million people die every year from water-related diseases.

Since the beginning of the partnership, a percentage of the sales from The Co-operative’s own-brand range of mineral water - Fairbourne Springs - has gone directly towards installing the unique roundabout pumps in South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland. The provision of the pumps has transformed the lives of whole communities, especially for many women and children, who may have previously spent hours each day walking to collect water.

Sales have been boosted by The Co-operative Group’s acquisition of Somerfield last year, as the consumer-owned retailer has continued its commitment to ethical trading, extending its reach to the enlarged estate.

Co-operative and Somerfield customers have now raised enough money to fund some 400 pumps in Africa, where new installations are being approved every week. The amount of clean drinking water this will provide equates to 140 Olympic-sized swimming pools - and means that one million people will have access to clean, safe water.

The innovative PlayPump water systems are powered by roundabouts, which children play on and pump water up to a storage tank for use by the whole community. The PlayPumps are so popular with the youngsters that there is never a shortage of “volunteers”, and the highly-efficient pumps also produce excess water for irrigation purposes.

To mark the milestone and to encourage even more customers to support “water for water” projects in Africa, The Co-operative is launching a major awareness campaign to communicate the One Million People message via in-store communications and social media activity. The retailer, which has the largest in-store digital TV network in Europe, will also be using The Co-operative website (, Twitter, Facebook , and even YouTube to get the message across.

The YouTube link features Tom Mills, The Co-operative’s soft drinks buyer, speaking to children and villagers in Swaziland about the difference the provision of a PlayPump has made to them.

Fairbourne Springs waterSean Toal, Commercial Director - Food Retail at The Co-operative, commented: “Co-operative and Somerfield customers have really got behind this initiative. To provide clean and safe water for so many is an incredible achievement, which has literally been life-changing for the people concerned.”

All the communications feature real-life case studies focusing on individual people whose lives have been changed thanks to the initiative. One of the case studies tells the story of 12-year-old Lerato Mogap, who used to spend three hours a day gathering water for her sick mum and younger brother. Now the PlayPump has been installed in her village, Skuinsdrift, in the North West Province of South Africa, Lerato now uses this precious time studying towards her dream of becoming a nurse.

The Fairbourne Springs range has also been revamped with a fresh new look to coincide with the communications campaign.

For further details on the project, customers can visit


About The Co-operative Group:
The Co-operative Group’s other Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives benefitting the people of Africa include Mobile Phone Recycling in partnership with Oxfam, where over £300,000 has already been raised from recycling various mobile phones, iPods and other unwanted technology that has helped fund Oxfam’s HIV and AIDS programme in Malawi for a whole year.

Also, as part of their commitment to make life good for everyone The Co-operative are also combating climate change with various projects and the publicising of climate change facts to raise awareness of the global problems we are facing.

For details of local stores stocking The Co-operative Fairbourne Springs, customers can call The Co-operative Customer Careline on (freephone) 0800 0686 727.
Additional Information

*One Foundation is the charitable arm of Global Ethics, the UK-based company behind the One range of products, whose profits fund humanitarian projects in developing countries.


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