The symbolic inauguration of 125 rainwater harvesting structures in the drought stricken Kallaru village in Kilinochchi, could probably end up being a landmark project in these northern parts of Sri Lanka. Fluctuating rainfalls, over dependence on rains for water availability, rise of water borne diseases which result from the lack of access to safe drinking water, could be a thing of the past.
Coca-Cola in collaboration with UN-Habitat and with assistance from the Kallaru Women’s Rural Development Society collectively worked on a project to create rainwater harvesting tanks and related infrastructure for 1625 residents in the area. This has led to improved access to clean drinking water for the villagers.
The project was dedicated to the community members in Kallaru village by Mr. Katheeswaran - Assistant Director Planning for the District Secretariat of Kilinochchi, Mary Macdaleen- President, Kallaru Women’s Rural Development Society, Asim Parekh- Vice President, Technical, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, Deepak Jolly, Vice President, Public Affairs & Communication, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, Kapila Wellimilage, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited, Abhishek Jugran, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Far East Limited and Tim McNair- Chief Technical Advisor, UN-Habitat Sri Lanka.
Kilinochchi in Northern Sri Lanka, is an area dominated by agriculture and following poor rains year-round, had been an area stricken with drought in 2011 and 2012. This has created challenges around availability of clean drinking water for the residents of the area.
Coca-Cola and UN-Habitat came together in 2012, to provide the basic necessities of clean drinking water and water for household usage for some parts of the area. Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, UN-Habitat worked with Kallaru Women’s Rural Development Society from October 2012 to October 2013 to construct 120 RWH projects in homes and five in public buildings. The new rainwater harvesting system is enabling the community to conserve and re-use water during the dry season. Following some monsoon rains in November and December 2013, the newly installed rainwater harvesting tanks filled with water was used by the beneficiaries for drinking, sanitation, cooking, bathing, washing clothes and home gardening. During the dry period the tanks are being utilised for water storage. The project also facilitated ground water recharging at a domestic level through community awareness programmes.
Speaking at the inauguration of the project, Asim Parekh, Vice President, Technical, Coca-Cola India and South west Asia, said, “This project is special in many ways. It is not just functional thereby ensuring availability of water and preventing water from running off uselessly into the sea. It is also about giving respect to water – the fundamental element of human survival. We know that water cannot be created by human beings. It can only be harvested. And therefore what you have accomplished today will play a big part in sensitizing the current and future generations to respect water. I applaud all of you – your wisdom, your collaboration and your far sightedness.”
The establishment of domestic and public rainwater harvesting systems in the village also enabled three schools in the area, benefiting 200 school children and 19 teachers. The Kallaru Women’s Rural Development Society has been able to provide clean drinking water and improve the health of 60 women and 110 children of the community. Additionally 52 pre-school children also benefited from improved health and well-being as a result of the RWH systems.
Commenting on the partnership with Coca-Cola, Tim McNair, Chief Technical Advisor, UN-Habitat Sri Lanka, said, “These 125 RWH tanks will enable thousands of community members, children, schools and health centres in the vicinity to have improved access to water. UN-Habitat has worked closely with the Kallaru WRDS and the community members in implementing this project. We are glad that The Coca-Cola Foundation partnered with us in this endeavour.”
In order to ensure the sustainability of the project, Coca-Cola worked with UN-Habitat and WRDS to facilitate training on RWH system installation and maintenance for appointed community leaders.