Every Drop Counts
“If there is magic
on this planet,
it is contained in water.”
In countries in which water is scarce, conflicts arise time and again between the requirements of the tourist sector and the needs of the local population, and of local farmers in particular. The water consumption of the tourist sector is also often hugely disproportionate to that of the local people. An average tourist in Mallorca, Spain, for example, consumes 400 litres of water per day compared to 250 litres for local residents in urban areas (European Environmental Agency, 2001).
Kuoni’s aim is to ensure adequate access to this precious resource for all people at water-scarce destinations wherever such discrepancies occur. Our efforts in this respect have already extended to a pioneering project in Mombasa, Kenya, in which nine dams have been built to provide surrounding villages with their own water supplies. In addition, we also conduct intensive one-day training sessions with our partner hotels on how to save and treat water and how waste water can be cleaned.
Analysing water scarcity across the destinations
As a result of Kuoni’s Stakeholder Dialogue, four key areas for approaching the topic of freshwater management have been identified, namely raising customer awareness, creating standards for the supply chain, promoting technological solutions to reduce water consumption, and applying water footprinting/ accounting methodologies.
Actions based on these working streams will be first implemented in two pilot destinations – Egypt and Kenya – which were selected based on a multicriteria decision analysis. Criteria used included passenger volume and water scarcity statistics from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Global Water Tool (see figure below), among other criteria.
In 2012, 5 key hoteliers have committed to gauge current water consumption and implement water saving technologies in collaboration with Kuoni. A best-practice manual based is expected to be published in early 2013.
Resource Scarcity Distribution of Destinations
Water dams in Kenya
Shortages of water are a frequent problem for both the local communities and the tourist industry along the coast near Mombasa, Kenya. But Kuoni has adopted an exemplary approach here to ensure that adequate water supplies are available for both the local population and the tourist sector. The approach tackled three key issues: the frequent water shortages suffered by the hotels along the coast caused when local residents drilled into the hotel’s water pipes while seeking water of their own; the erosion of the surrounding hills during the rainy season, which was causing fertile soil to be washed into the Indian Ocean (and which was also turning the water on the bathing beaches an unpleasant brown); and the poverty among the people in Mombasa’s hinterland, which was driving more and more young people away and into the cities.
To help tackle all three issues – the water shortages, the soil erosion and the local poverty at this key tourist destination – Kuoni supported a water preservation project initiated by the Baobab Trust, a local non-government organisation. The project involved the building of nine dams in the Vikwatani area, adjacent to Mombasa’s finest beaches, which both capture the area’s rainwater and slow down the local soil erosion. The dams now provide over 7 000 people with free access to a reliable water supply.
As further beneficial side-effects, freshwater fish and water plants have been added to the reservoirs, and the local farmers can now terrace, irrigate and cultivate the fertile local land. So the dams are not only creating water reservoirs and preventing soil erosion; they are also helping the local villagers to grow staples such as rice, vegetables, fruit and medicinal plants, while the fish stocks offer a further valuable source of food.