Leading the charge in the fight against chronic kidney disease of uncertain etiology(CKDu), the Hayleys Group has been actively combating the spreading of the disease through the installation of reverse osmosis plants all across Sri Lanka’s dry-zone under its flagship CSR programme, Puritas Sathdiyawara.
Awareness and concern over the ravaging effect that this affliction has had on families and communities across the region is on the rise and it appears that the spread of CKDu is closely correlated with harsh, hot, and extremely parched conditions prevalent in these areas and resulting water-scarcity in the area. Day-to-day life has quickly degraded into a constant struggle as larger groups of Sri Lankans are faced with the life-threateningly difficult decision of consuming what little water they have and risking the fate which they have seen so many friends and family fall to, or struggle a while longer with no water at all.
Dutuwewa is one such village in Sri Lanka’s North Central province which has for decades endured these harsh conditions with little to no outside assistance until recently when a dedicated reverse osmosis water purification plant was established in the village for the first time as part of the continuing efforts of the Hayleys Puritas Sathdiyawara, finally signalling an end to the terrible scarcity of drinking water which area residents had stoically weathered for so many years.
Speaking at the ceremonial opening of the plant, Hayleys PLC Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage said:“Our goal with Puritas Sathdiyawara from the outset has been to ensure that we are able to make a lasting and meaningful improvement to the lives of these once vibrant rural communities. It is our duty to ensure that the basic needs of the people and communities of this nation are met, and their aspirations nurtured. Access to safe, clean drinking water for these communities is absolutely imperative and we at Hayleys are fully committed to do as much as possible to fulfill this fundamental need and help to ease the plight of our people.”
Following the construction of its first reverse osmosis plant in Maithreepura, Padaviya, one of the villages worst affected by CKD in 2014, Puritas Sathdiyawara has gone on to install 16 reverse osmosis plants across four districts, providing life-saving access to clean drinking water for over 33,000 men, women and children across 19 villages in the North and North Central provinces. In keeping with the established model of Sathdiyawara where key sectors of Hayleys Group companies sponsor the construction of a new reverse osmosis plant, the Dutuwewa facility was sponsored by the Hayleys Group’s tea marketing and export business, Mabroc Teas.
As one of Sri Lanka’s most respected exporters of premium teas sourced from 38 tea estates in Sri Lanka, the company maintains a long-standing engagement in sustainable initiatives which aligns well with the objectives of Puritas Sathdiyawara.
“It is a true honour for Mabroc to be part of the Puritas Sathdiyawara initiative. This is our very first reverse osmosis plant commissioning, and we consider it a privilege to be able to contribute towards a project that will drastically improve the lives of so many families and communities in Dutuwewa,” Mabroc Managing Director Niran Ranatunga said. The families that first settled in this area following the construction of reservoirs in the area so many decades ago, still have their descendants living and working the same land, however changing climate patterns and a rising epidemic of CKDu, together with lack of basic comforts that draw younger Sri Lankans out of the rural lifestyles and into increasingly densely populated urban centres have taken a severe toll on these communities.
Community engagement is fundamental to the approach and vision of Puritas Sathdiyawara. In that regard, each of the reverse osmosis installations have been designed in a manner that ownership and responsibility for these life-saving facilities are retained with the residents of these communities. Particularly given that the conditions and requirements of each village differ from case to case, once each facility is constructed, it is handed over to Community Based Organization (CBO) of the village to manage the plant and distribute water and maintain records of distribution.
In charge of the Dutuwewa reverse osmosis plant is Nandana, President of the village’s Community Based Organization. Having worked in close collaboration with Hayleys, Nandana is now determined to ensure that once the plant is up and running that a systematic but simple process is established to manage the plant.
R.A. Mallika Ranawaka, a member of the Ranawaka family shared her reasons for donation. “We inherited all this land of one acre from my father, and since we wanted to honour our parents’ memory we wanted to contribute this 10 perches of it to this very worthy cause which will help uplift the lives of families and friends in our village, and do our part for an important social cause. After I discussed it with my brothers, we all decided that it was the right thing to do. We have seen how our community has suffered from a lack of clean drinking water and from the agonizing CKD affliction. The fact that this plant is now installed and that it will help all the 3000 families in our community makes us all very happy,” she explained.
Commenting on the future of Puritas Sathdiyawara, which is coordinatedby Puritas a key business segment of the Hayleys Group that facilitates the execution of water projects, Haycarb PLC Managing Directorand Hayleys PLC Executive Board Member Rajitha Kariyawasan reaffirmed the group’s commitment toward further expansion of the project under the guidance of the Chairman and the Board of Hayleys PLC
“The key known remedy to treat and reverse the effects of CKDu and its prevention is providing the access to and wide spread continued usage of clean drinking water. Having seen the life-changing effects that access to clean, safe drinking water has had on communities across the region, we remain more committed than ever to expanding this initiative as rapidly and sustainably as possible, with the blessings of our Chairman, the Board and the patronage our key sectors of the Group.”
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