On World Water Day, we focus on how BAT’s Project AQUA is making a difference in Fiji by supplying local tobacco farming communities with a safe water supply.
More than 15 rural communities will have better access to safe, clean drinking water thanks to BAT Fiji's Project AQUA. The initiative supports BAT’s objective to advance sustainable agriculture practices and enhance the livelihoods of rural farming communities.
In addition to its 145 permanent employees, BAT Fiji creates additional employment opportunities for a further 1,100 people and works with 500 local farmers. BAT works side-by-side with the community to provide training, expertise and machinery for best-practice rotation.
Since the tobacco farms are on the dry side of the island, it is difficult for the farming communities to access clean, safe water.
“When there is no water in the village, the women have to take the children and the buckets to the river to source water for cooking,” said local resident, Taniela Nacalucalu.
Project AQUA involves drilling boreholes and installing water tanks and connections in communities close to BAT’s tobacco farming regions. Since the project launched, in June 2018, eight boreholes have been installed and an additional seven will be completed in 2019.
“Today I am very thankful for the opening of the borehole,” said another local resident. “Tobacco farming has provided financial stability for my family and the families farming in the Vunaqoru area.”
Alexander Ivakhov, General Manager for BAT Fiji, added: “We see our responsibility to support the farming communities in the regions where we operate. We will continue to work closely with the government to help communities access clean drinking water.”
The AQUA initiative is a great example of knowledge sharing within the Group, since the local team in Fiji leveraged the experience and learnings from BAT Bangladesh’s Probaho programme. Fiji’s Minister for Economy and Attorney General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, officially launched Project AQUA last year and praised BAT Fiji for supporting the needs of local farming communities.
World Water Day is an annual event to raise awareness of sustainable freshwater resources. The theme for 2019 is “Leaving no one behind,” which recognises obstacles to accessing safe drinking water. BAT is commited to improving access to basic services (such as water), which advances sustainable agriculture practices and communities.
Our sustainability agenda focuses on three key areas, identified through a detailed materiality process as having the greatest significance to our business and our stakeholders: harm reduction, sustainable agriculture and farmer livelihoods and corporate behaviour.
We are committed to working to enable prosperous livelihoods for all farmers who supply our tobacco leaf. One of the main ways BAT achieves this goal is through improving access to basic services or infrastructure, such as clean water, energy, or sanitation. Find out more about by reading our Sustainability Report 2018, which is available for download at bat.com/reporting.