Every Drop Counts

“If there is magic
on this planet,
it is contained in water.” Loran Eisely
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.

Resource Scarcity Distribution of Destinations

(Source: WRI; Annual Renewable Water Supply per Person by Watershed, Projections for 2025)

Kuoni publishes Water Management Manual for Hotels

As a result of the abovementioned Stakeholder Dialogue, Kuoni has focused its activities on promoting technical solutions and operational improvements in hotels, investment in community projects to minimise the adverse impacts of water competition and communication to customers, starting its activities in two selected pilot destinations (one being Kenya). 

In Phase I of the project in Kenya, Kuoni and the consultancy GreenWater collaborated with five partner hotels in order to develop a manual on sustainable water management in hotel operations. In a first step, hotels were asked to conduct a self-assessment of their water management system. Through various site visits, each hotel was analysed with regards to their water supply, consumption, disposal and re-use. Water meters were installed at strategic locations where feasible.  A water budget analysis specific to each site was then developed and areas of improvement were identified. 

A comprehensive user manual was the culmination of all the information gathered within the scope of the pilot study. The aim was for the end-user to have the tools necessary to implement a sustainable water management in their own operations step-by-step, including an accompanying set of Excel worksheets which calculate water consumption and cost-benefit analyses of improvement mechanisms automatically. Any hotel committing to the process outlined in the manual will be eligible for the Kuoni Water Champion award. The manual covers the following aspects:

  • Requirements for Becoming a Kuoni Water Champion
  • Planning
  • Data Collection
  • Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Defining the Action Plan
  • Monitoring
  • Training Staff
  • Creating Customer Awareness

Two roll-out seminars took place in April 2013 to launch the manual and the Water Champion Program to Kuoni suppliers in both the northern and southern coasts of Mombasa. 60% of Kuoni suppliers in the region were in attendance.

The manual is available for download here.

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.

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