Closing The Gap - Safe, Clean, Drinking Water for all Australians

Yaru Water is installing water filtration systems that provide safe, clean, drinking water for remote Indigenous communities in Australia.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Yaru Water (and the Yaru Foundation)

Year founded

2011

Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 100 - 250

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Australia

Headquarters location: City

Uki, New South Wales

Location(s) of impact

Australia: Pandanus Park, Western Australia

Website

http://www.yaruwater.com/

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/yaruwater/

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

There is a major health disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We were shocked to find the number of remote Aboriginal communities whose water was contaminated with heavy metals and nitrates (something that is potentially fatal for babies). As a bottled water company with a strong social purpose - to create health improvements for Indigenous communities, we knew that we had to use our skills and resources to find a solution. And so, our 'Safe, Clean Drinking Water For All' project was born.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Our pilot project was in the remote community of Pandanus Park in Western Australia. This community was found to have levels of nitrates in the water that made it unsafe for babies in particular to consume. Nitrates can sadly cause the devastating Blue Baby Syndrome. The community had been understandably anxious about their water provision and the impact it was having on vulnerable members of the community - and as a result were unable to drink the water – so they were the ideal community to commence our first filtration initiative.

After close consultation with Pandanus Park community leader Patricia Riley, we began work on our goal to build the first filtration system of its kind in Australia. The aim was for the system to act like a traditional water boar and be accessible to the whole community. Affectionately called the ‘Rock Hole’ by the community, the system was installed in May 2017 and is capable of producing up to 5000 litres of safe, clean water every single day.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Pandanus Park was relying on bottled water, a completely unsustainable solution. It meant that alternatives such as sugar filled drinks were being consumed as an alternative. This in itself presents this community and others with a whole range of health implications.

The outcomes are straightforward. It's been widely documented that insufficient access to clean drinking water has contributed to skin, eye and diarrhoeal diseases in Aboriginal communities. Children younger than two years old have been hospitalised due to Gastroenteritis, with rates up to 11 times higher in Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal communities.

This gap is not acceptable and is one that we will endeavour to close. The impact could not be clearer. By installing these filtration systems we are enabling communities to thrive. The impact is endless, from health, to social and environmental benefits. Not to mention equal access to a basic human need.

But Pandanus Park is just the start.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Yaru Water is an established, family owned bottled water company. Yaru is distributed nationally through the major supermarkets, and is purchased by some of the largest corporate organisations in Australia. In 2016 we launched a dedicated, not for profit Foundation that would allow us to establish projects that help to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Our funding sustainability plan is critical to all projects and includes:
1. Sales of Yaru Water - A donation from every single bottle sold goes directly to the Yaru Foundation to ensure the sustainability of projects (our main project income source).
2. Corporate Donations - Aligning with our corporate customers for community project partnerships.
3. Grant Submissions.
4. Individual Donations.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The issue of contaminated water in Aboriginal communities has to a large extent been completely ignored. Whilst many water and sanitation projects like this exist in developing countries such as Africa, there has been little to no attention paid to the water crisis of Aboriginal communities in Australia. In some communities people have found themselves having to move away from their community. This leads to the separation of families, loss of jobs, and increased exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

The problem of contaminated water in Aboriginal communities is well documented and has featured in the peer review in the electronic journal from the Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, but we wanted to ensure this was an area of need that we could genuinely help with. Together with our Water Chemist we visited numerous remote communities and met with the Elders. Following our own independent testing, we knew that we had to address this gap. As per the tag line, Yaru is 'more than water'. It is about creating sustainable social change. We knew that this was an area that we could help to address - after all - it's what we do for a living. We have always supported Indigenous community projects but we just knew that we had the appropriate skills and resources to really make an impact in this area. We wanted to help keep communities together whilst empowering them to thrive.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact

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Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

Congratulations. It's a pleasure read this project with a great message of empathy. Congratulation one more time and for anything it will be a pleasure for me to help you in this lovely project. My best regards.

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