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Restoring safe drinking water in Sichuan
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Diageo, the world's leading premium drinks business, announced that through its "Water of Life" project, access to safe drinking water at Longxi-Hongkou National Nature Reserve in southwestern China's Sichuan Province has been restored as part of its commitment to helping the earthquake victims rebuild their homes.

Volunteers from Diageo enter the quake-struck areas to work with local villagers to reconstruct the water supply infrastructure. [Shanghai Daily]

Volunteers from Diageo enter the quake-struck areas to work with local villagers to reconstruct the water supply infrastructure. [Shanghai Daily] 

Under the "Water of Life" project, Diageo will fund the reconstruction of 18.5 kilometers of water pipes and a total of 20 cisterns at four national nature reserves in Sichuan, which were destroyed by the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake a year ago.

It is working with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to reconstruct the water supply systems at Longxi-Hongkou, Baishuihe, Baodinggou and Wolong by diverting water from sources higher in the mountains to families and plants downstream.

The project that kicked off in March this year is expected to benefit about 10,000 local residents by the end of this May, ensuring that communities in the four national nature reserves have access to safe drinking water, and to safeguard the livelihoods of local people who mainly depend on farming.

"Diageo is committed to actively supporting local communities affected by the devastating earthquake to rebuild their homes and help make sure they have access to safe drinking water," said Lu Haiqing, Diageo's corporate relations director for China. "This program is yet another significant milestone in the development of Diageo's 'Water of Life' program in China, a project that is making a real difference to the quality of life and economic prosperity of local communities in the country."

Longxi-Hongkou, Baishuihe, Wolong and Baodinggou national nature reserves are among the key reserves where precious wild animals such as the giant panda are protected and the natural environment is preserved.

The main sources of income in the area are tourism projects, as well as the planting and harvesting of industrial crops. All of the water supplies in the reserves were badly damaged by the earthquake, which brought difficulties to the daily lives of local people and stagnated economic development.

Diageo joined hands with the WWF after learning about the situation, and worked together with local communities to rebuild water diversion facilities, to help villagers regain their domestic and animal husbandry water supply as quickly as possible.

Diageo has also invited experts to provide training to local residents, promoting the knowledge of upstream water resources and ecological conservation, as well as the technologies needed for sustainable development of local kiwi fruit plantations.

Moreover, volunteers from Diageo also entered the quake-struck areas to work with local villagers to reconstruct water supply infrastructure and irrigation.

"For Diageo, corporate social responsibility is part of our core business operations and we encourage employees to participate in activities that enrich the communities," said Kenneth Macpherson, Diageo's executive managing director for China. "As a global leader of premium drinks, Diageo will continue to honor its long-term commitment to China, and dedicate itself to China's sustainable development."

Following the Wenchuan earthquake on May 12 last year, Diageo, together with Chinese white spirits producer Shui Jing Fang, donated 12 million yuan (US$1.76 million) to disaster relief work, in addition to a total of 100,000 yuan from employees' donation and 50,000 pounds (US$76,085) contributed by the Diageo Foundation.

Diageo began working with the WWF in June 2007 on its "Water of Life" project in China to preserve the water resources at east Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province.

(Shanghai Daily May 11, 2009)

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