Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Alahudeen Ansar, Chairman – National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Asoka Wickremesinghe – Chairman - Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited, Kapila Welmillage, Country Manager- Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited and Abhishek Jugran, Country Manager - Sri Lanka and Maldives, Coca-Cola Far East Limited were present at the official signing ceremony which took place recently at the Ministry office.
Under this partnership programme, two Reverse Osmosis units with an output of 30 cubic meters of treated water every day will help positively impact the lives of several households in the villages of Pubudugama and Damsopura. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) is prevalent in both these areas and has adversely impacted the lives of the nearby community.
The treated water will be used primarily for drinking and cooking purposes. The units will be operational for up to 20 hours per day, seven days a week and will service several households in the area. Through water treatment units the hardness and fluoride levels found in local sources of water will be drastically reduced. The RO process will also effectively remove other suspected causes of the disease from the water, including the presence of heavy metals such as Arsenic and Cadmium.
Commenting on the event, Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development stated, “Public and private sector partnerships of this nature play a pivotal role in fulfilling the various needs of communities across the country. The need for clean water is a pressing concern in certain parts of Sri Lanka and this partnership helps to address it in a sustainable manner. The RO units installed by Coca-Cola and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board will provide families from CKDu affected areas with access to safe drinking water, and this is in turn will drastically improve their overall health and the quality of their lives.”
Commenting on the installation of the two RO units, Kapila Welmillage, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited stated, “This initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to provide communities in Sri Lanka with greater access to clean water. Coca-Cola collaborates with the Government, civil society and members of the community to champion water stewardship throughout Sri Lanka and we hope that this contributes towards creating sustainable communities. We believe that these RO water treatment units will help provide the local communities of Pubudugama and Damsopura with adequate access to clean and safe drinking water. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the NWSDB for its ongoing support and commitment.”
Abhishek Jugran, Country Manager - Sri Lanka and Maldives, Coca-Cola Far East Limited stated, “Sustainability is a core aspect of Coca-Cola’s worldwide operations and the company specifically supports projects in the areas of women, water and well-being. Water stewardship is an important part of our sustainability efforts and our overall business strategy. These RO units help bring safe drinking water to the communities we operate in and they help create value for the people we work with. Our sustainability programmes are long-term investments that build value over time for our business and we look forward to embarking on similar projects in the future.”
In 2013, Coca-Cola partnered with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) to install a Reverse Osmosis facility in Padaviya, Anuradhapura, which benefited thousands of people. The company also installed another RO facility at a school in Madawachchiya, Mahadivulwewa to provide over 480 students and members of the community with access to safe drinking water. This will be the third and fourth RO Treatment plants donated by Coca-Cola Beverages in partnership with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board.
The Coca-Cola Company has also provided communities in certain areas of the country with access to clean water by installing rainwater harvesting structures in areas facing water scarcity. In 2014, Coca-Cola partnered with UN-Habitat and the Kallaru Women’s Rural Development Society to inaugurate 125 rainwater harvesting structures in Kallaru village in Kilinochchi in the North of Sri Lanka. The Kallaru community had become over dependent on fluctuating rainfall, which had become their only source of clean water and this had led to the rise of water borne diseases as well as a lack of safe drinking water. The rainwater harvesting structures brought clean water to the community once again and directly benefited 1625 villagers including 200 school children and 52 pre-school children.
The official MoU signing ceremony attended by Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Alahudeen Ansar, Chairman – National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Asoka Wickremesinghe – Chairman - Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited, Kapila Welmillage, Country Manager- Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Limited and Abhishek Jugran, Country Manager - Sri Lanka and Maldives, Coca-Cola Far East Limited.