India has long been known as the world’s largest democracy, and its population is forecast to rise from 1.2 billion people today to 1.5 billion by 2030 – a point at which it may even overtake China as the world’s most populous nation.
A rising population is one of the principal reasons why water stress has become an important issue in India. Government census figures indicate that by 2011 each Indian citizen had on average 15% less water available to them than a decade before.
As significant users of water to brew beer, our Indian breweries have a responsibility to their local communities to do what they can to mitigate water risk. Apart from addressing water efficiency within the breweries themselves – which on average improved by 32% between 2008 and 2011 – we undertook detailed hydrological risk assessments for the areas in which we operate, and found that a number were under various levels of threat.
In Neemrana, Rajasthan, the assessments revealed that farmers were using 87% of available water, with industry (including brewing) at 4%, and domestic use at 9%. The local farmers play a vital role in feeding their communities, but our assessments revealed that agriculture was an intensive user of water; many traditional water storage tanks were damaged or destroyed, with farmers resorting instead to boring deep wells, which were starting run dry as groundwater reserves reduced. We also found that much of the local rainfall was not being captured, instead being lost to evaporation or run-off.
At SABMiller we tackle water stress by managing both the demand and supply of water.