Diageo Breaks Ground on Water Health Centers in Ghana

Diageo owns some of the most recognizable brands in the booze business including Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray, and Guinness. Undeniably, the most important ingredient when it comes to making the liquor that gives the company its $71 billion market cap is, of course, water. The company operates a water stewardship program and its foundation has a specific water initiative to which it dedicates a good deal of its funds called Water for Life.

Water for life aims to increase clean water access for 1 million people in Africa annually. The foundation also awards water-related grants in Latin America, Asia, and Eastern Europe, with a special focus on the areas in which Diageo operates. To some, giving preferential water funding treatment to only those areas may seem a bit short-sighted. In fact, though, one-third of Diageo’s current production takes place in what the company refers to as "water-stressed locations," like Ghana.

Diageo recently forked over GH¢515,000 (around $160,000 or £105,000) to help pay for the costs of two Water Health Centers in Alogboshie, a suburb of Achimota, Ghana, where the company’s subsidiary, Guinness Ghana Breweries is located. Achimota is also one of the 23 water-stressed areas in which Diageo operates. The Water Health Centers will operate as a miniature water treatment system, providing clean drinking water to the communities surrounding the Achimota facility, as well as the nearby community of Abetutu, where the company sources local raw materials.

The addition of the newest Water Health Centers, which just broke ground at the end of 2014, makes for a total of nine similar water projects sponsored by Diageo since 2012.

A £105,000 is a pretty big give from the foundation, considering that its grants are typically limited to £50,000 ($75,000). 

Overall, the Diageo Foundation’s water and sanitation grantmaking tends to focus on NGOs that work with disadvantaged populations and those that are building partnerships that contribute to the economic development of a community. Oh, and if it’s deemed appropriate, Diageo will look to "enhance" grantee projects by encouraging them to work with a local Diageo business.