HEINEKEN Africa Foundation and WaterAid renew partnership after reaching 30 million people in fight against Covid-19

14 June 2021
WaterAid/ Kwizera Emmanuel

HEINEKEN Africa Foundation and WaterAid have renewed their partnership after bringing clean water and good hygiene to 30 million people across Nigeria, South Africa, Rwanda, and Mozambique, helping communities protect themselves from the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus.  

Last year the Foundation, which has been supporting water and health projects since 2007, donated more than £1 million (€1.2 million) to the international charity to support its emergency response work to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 in vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa. The Foundation has now renewed its commitment to WaterAid by donating a further £1.4 million (€1.6 million) and extending its support to WaterAid’s work in Ethiopia.  

Frequent handwashing with soap reduces the spread of coronaviruses (flu-like illnesses) by around a third (36%)[i], but in the developing world, three-quarters of homes do not have basic hygiene facilities, such as soap and water to wash their hands. One in six healthcare centres globally have no clean water and soap for handwashing, putting health workers and patients at considerable risk of infection. With the support of the Foundation, WaterAid has brought clean water, hygiene products and crucial hygiene behaviour messages to people like Labara, 45, a mother of four and market trader from Kaduna state in northern Nigeria. With the support of the Foundation, WaterAid installed a handwashing station at the entrance of the market she works at, helping keep people safe during the pandemic.    

Labara said:  

“We are very happy with the newly installed handwashing facility as it will help us practise handwashing regularly and protect our market from coronavirus.”  

As vulnerable countries face a slow wait to receive their vaccines against Covid-19, WaterAid and the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation hope to reach millions of people over the next year with clean water and good hygiene. Together they will provide clean water and handwashing stations for vulnerable communities in countries where the HEINEKEN Company runs its breweries to help to train community members to maintain facilities, support vaccination roll-out, and promote hygiene messaging through community radio, television, and billboards to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 strains. 

The project will include the provision of clean water in healthcare facilities in Rwanda, and the distribution of hygiene packs among vulnerable communities in Nigeria.  

In Mozambique, WaterAid plans to support more than 30 healthcare centres and 20 schools with water, sanitation and hygiene services and will also provide support to the country’s vaccination campaign while promoting good hygiene practices post-vaccinations. WaterAid will also work Maria Mutola, former World and Olympics athletics champion and WaterAid global ambassador, who will help to support hygiene education campaigns.   

Communities and schools in South Africa will be provided with handwashing stations and facilities, while hygiene products, such as menstrual pads, soap and masks, will be distributed to women and girls and refugee groups. 

In Ethiopia, where only 8% of homes have handwashing facilities with both clean water and soap on the premises, the project will deliver water and hygiene facilities to healthcare centres, public places such as markets, as well improving access to clean water in households.    

Suzanne Giele, HEINEKEN Africa Foundation Manager, said:   

“Despite being basic human rights, millions of families across sub-Saharan Africa have no clean water or good hygiene facilities, leaving them at risk of infectious diseases and affecting their lives and livelihoods.  

“By continuing to work with WaterAid, we’re determined to see communities in sub-Saharan Africa get lasting access to these essential resources, transforming lives for good.”     

Tim Wainwright, WaterAid Chief Executive Officer, said:  

“Handwashing with soap is a key line of defence in helping prevent the spread of coronavirus, and yet three quarters of people in low-income countries have nowhere to wash their hands at home, putting them at a greater risk of disease.  

“Our work is more urgent than ever and we’re so grateful for the continued support of the HEINEKEN Africa Foundation, enabling us to provide handwashing stations and hygiene education to communities in sub-Saharan Africa so they can protect themselves from deadly illnesses. Together we’ve helped 30 million people in the fight against the pandemic, and through the partnership can help transform many more lives with the basics of clean water and good hygiene. 


For more information, please contact: 

Ekene Oboko, Senior Media Officer, [email protected]. Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected] 

Notes to Editors: 

WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 27 million people with clean water and 27 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1] 
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]  
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's around 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes. 
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[3] 
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[4]  

The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation was created in 2007 with the purpose to improve the health for people living in sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, the Foundation has committed over 13.5 million euros to 128 projects in 10 different countries. Over the years, the Foundation has built a strong expertise on Mother & Child Care and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects. The HEINEKEN Africa Foundation is a registered non-profit organization and a separate legal entity from the HEINEKEN Company. It is funded through an endowment fund from the HEINEKEN Company and regular contributions. It is governed by the Board of Trustees that bases their decisions upon the recommendation of the Advisory Board, mostly external experts. 

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines 

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines 

[3] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage 

[4] www.wateraid.org 

[i] Beale S, Johnson A, Zambon M, null n, Hayward A, Fragaszy E. Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections in a UK Community Cohort [version 1; peer review: 1 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. Wellcome Open Research. 2020;5(98). https://wellcomeopenresearch.org/articles/5-98