Quenching their thirst | Sunday Observer

Quenching their thirst

27 August, 2023

Appé Lanka, a rural development project initiated to empower the people of Kilinochchi District, is working with Sri Lankan funders to improve the quality of life for the people in the district by providing them with safe drinking water and home gardens.

The ‘Let them bloom: give them water’ project by Appé Lanka has provided water to 29 schools in Poonakary and Pachiapail subdivisions in Kilinochchi. This has been done by providing the schools with Reverse Osmosis plants (RO plants), that would otherwise have to wait for browsers to deliver safe drinking water.

Studies conducted by the Centre for Water Quality and Algae Research, Department of Zoology, at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura shows that 50 percent of groundwater sources in the Kilinochchi District are not within the SLSI drinking water quality standards.

The water tested had high metal content and microbial contamination with Salmonella, which shows the need for safe drinking water for the people of the district. These contaminants are directly linked to many diagnoses of chronic kidney diseases of Unknown Origin (CKDu) in Sri Lanka. It is also essential that continuous monitoring of the water quality is done to safeguard communities living in the district.

Considering the research by local and foreign organisations on the groundwater situation, Appé Lanka initiated its ‘Let them bloom: give them water’ project in 2018.

Appé Lanka founder and CEO Shaan Corea said, ‘Appé Lanka launched this transformative program aimed at addressing two critical needs of the people in the Kilinochchi District - one is to provide access to clean drinking water and the promotion of sustainable home gardens. The initiative seeks to enhance the overall well-being and self-sufficiency of the local community, fostering more resilient and empowered people. It was emotional to see the result of our first RO water plant with the support of Sri Lankan artists in November 2018. The children didn’t only drink water in school, they carried bottles of water home for their families, sometimes walking over a kilometre.”

Sunshine Foundation for Good is a supporter of Appé Lanka and has worked with them for two years. Their initiative ‘Better Water, Better Lives’ under the Sunshine Foundation for Good has worked with Appé Lanka to set up eight RO plants that provide safe water to over 20,000 residents in villages in Kilinochchi.

Vish Govindasamy of Sunshine Foundation said, ‘Safe water is not merely a necessity but a fundamental right, and the Sunshine Foundation for Good recognises the profound impact that access to better water has on improving lives and livelihoods. We commend the work done by Appé Lanka and are happy to support them by championing the cause of safe water. The research and assessment of the ground situation done by their team together with ours reassure us that we are reaching the correct people. Together we empower communities to break free from the burdens of waterborne diseases, hardships, and limitations imposed by water scarcity.’

Tokyo Cement Group is another organisation that partnered with Appé Lanka to establish water purification plants in Veravil, Valaippaadu, and Veerapandiyamunei, three villages in Ponnaveli, Poonakary in Kilinochchi. With a cumulative capacity of 20,000 Litres of water a day, the three RO plants benefit nearly 2,000 residents from 495 village households whose livelihood is based on fishing and farming.

Manager - Corporate Sustainability of the Tokyo Cement Group Salinda Kandapola said, “We recognise the fundamental importance of providing access to clean and safe drinking water for all our citizens in all parts of Sri Lanka. However, due to the scarcity of clean potable water, people face many hardships and get exposed to diseases such as CKDu which has devastated lives in certain parts of the country.”

He said, “Appé Lanka helped us in identifying three of the most deserving villages for this project, based on their experience in working in the area for many years. Upon studying the hydrology of the area, Tokyo Cement installed customised water purification systems with RO capability to cater to the daily needs of the community. As part of this far-reaching humanitarian project, Tokyo Cement also undertook maintenance of the water purification plants during the first three years by engaging community representatives to ensure the project’s sustainability. These drinking water facilities provide much-needed access to life-giving clean drinking water for the people of Poonakary.’

Speaking of their partnership, Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan President Kishani Gunasekera said, ‘The Rotary Club of Colombo Metropolitan is committed to making a positive and lasting impact in the communities we serve. Through our partnership with Appé Lanka, we aim to address the immediate needs while fostering a sense of pride and self-reliance among the people of Kilinochchi. By providing clean water and promoting home gardens, we aspire to create a more resilient and prosperous community.

Gunasekera said, “We undertook two home garden projects last year because of the strong emphasis on sustainability and self-sufficiency. We are happy that the team at Appé Lanka is partnering with local experts to provide training, resources, and support for establishing home gardens within schools in the district. These gardens will empower residents to grow nutritious vegetables, not only enhancing food security but also promoting a deeper connection to nature and healthier dietary habits.’