Ashanti Programme - A child fetching water at the standpipe

Water Security

Water is precious to all life on earth. Water is essential for the secure future. We donate 3p per litre to water projects across the globe for every Co-op branded still, sparkling and flavoured water sold. We donate 1p per litre for all other water bottles sold. Mixers (including tonic and soda water) are excluded.

Working in partnership with The One Foundation, Co-op has spent more than 15 years investing in clean water, sanitation and hygiene projects around the world. We also are pioneering partners for Water Unite, and now, every bottle of water bought in a Co-op helps to support clean water projects and changes lives. In 2021 as part of our Global Wellbeing Charter, we repurposed £647,000 of funding to clean water and sanitation projects to help tackle the spread and impact of COVID-19. This supported Fairtrade communities in Ghana and Malawi.

To date we’ve raised over £20 million with our partners The One Foundation and Water Unite, changing the lives of more than 2.9 million people across the globe through clean water, hygiene ang sanitation, and plastic pollution projects.

How buying Co-op Water can help to change millions of lives

By buying our water, you've helped The One Foundation – our charity partner – to fund water, sanitation and hygiene programmes across the world.

  • Raising £17 million for WASH projects globally
  • Supporting water, hygiene and sanitation programmes in our Fairtrade cocoa, sugar, tea and flower growing communities
  • Providing water access for 4 humanitarian crises in 2022 alone
  • Building rainwater harvesting systems and safe toilets in schools for over 8,000 children

Water Unite

In April 2017, we signed up as pioneer partners to Water Unite (Global Investment Fund for Water), so now every branded bottled water that we sell contributes 1p per litre to the fund, which aims to end water poverty globally by 2030. Together with Co-op water, this means you help us to donate over £2.5million a year to clean water and sanitation projects across the world. So, when you buy water from Co-op, feel proud.

Read more about Water Unite.

Tackling plastic pollution and providing water security for communities with Water Unite

At the Co-op we are committed to being part of the solution to plastic pollution worldwide. With our partner Water Unite we have supported the Gjenge Makers project in Kenya, which converts plastic waste into an affording housing material. The project was awarded the Young Champions of the Earth Award by the UN Environment Programme.

Eveline's story

Eveline operates a milk vending business in Githogoro, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Until recently, Eveline depended on informal water vendors or unreliable water points for water. These would often be closed without warning, forcing her to fetch water from other sources which were very far from her shop.

Her business requires at least 10 jerry cans of water a day for the cleaning of the dispensing machine and containers. This was costing Eveline 100 Kenyan Shillings (Kes) per day, which for a small business was very expensive.

As one of the beneficiaries of the newly pre-paid water dispensers installed in Githogoro, Eveline now has access to a reliable, affordable clean water supply, which is crucial to the success of her business.

“Since I started using the pre-paid water dispensers, my business is able to save about Kes 1500 per month. This has helped me increase the stock for my shop and I am able to sell other things in addition to milk. The water is just across the street from my shop, it’s treated and I do not fear contaminating my milk equipment. With just Kes 20, I have a whole week’s supply of water and previously this was not even enough for one day”. Eveline - Nairobi, Kenya

Water Security for People and Planet

We’ve long campaigned on climate and justice issues. The climate crisis is making the issue of water security much more acute. We see this as an urgent matter of climate justice. That’s why our CEO, Shirine Khoury-Haq, launched our Water Security for People & Planet report whilst addressing an event that took place at COP-27 in November 2022.

Our report brings together a series of recommendations for governments, businesses, and citizens. We believe that investing in water security — by which we mean sustainable, resilient water resources and services – is the best way to address climate vulnerability and inequalities, and reduce the effects of climate change to allow communities, nature, and economies to thrive. Our view is clear: we must take urgent action to address the climate crisis, and water security is the most fundamental building block.

WRAP Water Roadmap commitments

We are founding supporters of WRAP’s Roadmap towards Water Security for Food & Drink Supply, which gives us a way of working collaboratively with our peers, our suppliers and with local delivery bodies in the most water-stressed areas from which we source our products and ingredients.

Together, our aim is to help achieve sustainable water management to improve the quality and availability of water at catchment scale in the top 20 most important product and ingredient sourcing areas in the UK and overseas, with an overall target by 2030 that 50% of the UK’s fresh food is sourced from areas with sustainable water management. To help achieve this, our role as a food & drink retailer is in committing to take action and becoming good water stewards. This means:

Monitoring water use in our own operations and improving efficiency.

  • Identifying water risk hotspots in our supply chain (using the 3 lenses described throughout this report: water scarcity, access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene, and water pollution).
  • Supporting collective action water stewardship projects in strategically important sourcing areas.
  • Identifying suppliers operating in high water stress areas and encouraging them to engage with water stewardship initiatives in their local catchment.
  • Using our influence to advocate for better water governance.

This collective approach is critical because together we can achieve much more than we can individually, and because water is a shared resource - so no single user can tackle water scarcity issues alone. By having a stewardship focus in defined areas we believe we can make a meaningful difference, and this will form an important contribution towards UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 – to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.