US-based multinational food and beverage corporation PepsiCo announced during World Water Week in Stockholm that it has developed a new data management and modeling tool, Hydro-BID, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).
The new tool “estimates the availability of freshwater in water-scarce regions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean,” according to the company’s press release. It can predict water availability under any climate, population and land use scenario, and has already been used to forecast water supplies in Brazil, Peru, Haiti and Argentina.
It is expected to benefit more than 3 million people across the entire Lati America and Caribbean region by 2017.
In addition to determining water availability, the new tool is capable of forecasting natural disasters like floods and droughts.
“Contrary to popular belief, floods and droughts are foreseeable phenomena that governments and communities can prepare for," said Dr. Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm, a hydrologist and water resources engineer at the IADB.
"Not only will Hydro-BID help communities prepare for natural disasters, but it will also help public utility and water managers get a better handle on water planning and budgets. Through the support of partners like the PepsiCo Foundation, the IADB is able to develop and implement innovative solutions and approaches like Hydro-BID that will forecast water availability, aid infrastructure projects, and drive local and regional economic goals."
PepsiCo Foundation provided a $5 million USD grant to IADB’s Aquafund to help fund pilot projects in five countries, reaching some 500,000 people by the end of 2015. The governments of Switzerland and Austria have also contributed financially to the pilot program.
Aquafund also includes projects to improve access to safe water and sanitation services in extremely poor communities.
PepsiCo’s business operations are dependent on water-intensive agricultural activities, which is why it includes water stewardship in its sustainable business development, according to Dan Bena, senior director for Sustainable Development and Operations Outreach at PepsiCo.
“Water is a critical global resource, and few challenges are as significant as the global water crisis. Water is also a central part of our business, and we know that we need to be water stewards in order to sustain our business and the communities of which we are a part,” Bena said.