A pilot project seeking a practical method of combatting the spread of chronic kidney disease of an unknown origin (CKDu) in Sri Lanka’s dry zone has been supported by Commercial Bank of Ceylon under the bank’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Based on the premise that harvested rain water would be a viable and healthier alternative to the polluted groundwater believed to be one of the causes of the high incidence of the disease, the project involves the provision of rainwater harvesting facilities to 25 families of Ginnoruwa located in the Girandurukotte area. The project is managed by ETC Lanka, under the supervision of Agronomist Ranjith Mulleriyawa.
“Commercial Bank considers it a privilege and a duty to support a cause as worthy as this,” the bank’s Chairman Dharma Dheerasinghe said. “The problem of CKDu has devastated far too many families and has remained unsolved for far too long. We hope the results of this project will show the way to a solution that can benefit people in all the affected areas.”
It has been estimated that a family of five would need 20 litres of water per day for drinking and cooking purposes, and that a storage structure with the standard eco-friendly features capable of holding 5,000 litres of rainwater would be adequate to last approximately six months to tide over the dry months – May to September – in areas such as Girandurukotte (Mahaweli System C) which receive an annual rainfall of 1200-1500mm.
First diagnosed in the mid-1990s, CKDu is believed to have taken the lives of about 25,000 farmers to date. A recent WHO study estimates the prevalence of the disease at 15.3 percent of the population in the North Central region of the country.
A single round of dialysis costs the government about Rs.10,000. Because several rounds of dialysis are required each month, the minimum cost incurred by the government in treating a single patient with dialysis amounts to Rs.100,000 a month. Currently more than Rs.400 million is spent annually on the management of renal disease and about 2,000 new patients seek treatment for end stage renal disease each year. Commercial Bank has an extensive, multi-dimensional portfolio of community initiatives that promote IT literacy, online education and English literacy; provide scholarships and laptops to undergraduates; donate essential equipment to hospitals; support the preservation and restoration of sites of historic, cultural or religious significance and support the rehabilitation needs
of disabled soldiers.