John Keells Foundation recently commissioned two reverse osmosis filtration systems in the Trincomalee district under a pilot collaboration with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB).
This is as part of a master plan of NWSDB to provide access to good quality water for drinking and cooking purposes in areas known to be at risk of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).
CKD is reportedly prevalent in various parts of the country including the North Central, North Western, Uva, Eastern and Northern Provinces. Whilst CKD has grown to be a serious social issue causing severe hardship and trauma to affected families, it has also created a severe burden on the government health system given that a large number of the affected population comprise persons with low income levels.
Following a study conducted by World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health to determine the cause of CKD, NWSDB has proposed a systematic program providing good quality water to CKD affected areas via various means including reverse osmosis treatment plants to small clusters of villages.
The two reverse osmosis filtration systems were commissioned on 17th October in the presence of officials representing NWSDB headed by Abdul Rasheed, Deputy General Manager-Eastern Province, representatives of the John Keells Group led by Dilani Alagaratnam, President-Group HR, Legal, CSR and Sustainability and members of the respective communities. Both facilities were funded by John Keells Foundation and implemented by NWSDB. They will be operated and managed by the water-based community organizations in the respective villages with training and technical support of the NWSDB.
Speaking on the occasion, Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of Operations of John Keells Foundation said, “We are delighted to collaborate with NWSDB in providing access to clean drinking water to communities such as yourselves who have been severely affected by water scarcity and resultant health risks including chronic kidney disease. In fact, water and sanitation has been a key development priority in many community interventions undertaken by John Keells under our CSR vision ‘Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow’. We are delighted to commence this initiative in Morawewa North, which is part of our village adoption project. As you are aware, we have already commenced rehabilitating D8 irrigation tank and are exploring additional means of enhancing water access and ground water table in the area.”
Morawewa North in Morawewa DS Division has been a part of John Keells Foundation’s Village Adoption Project since 2014.
In addition to facilitating access to basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation, this integrated rural development project includes enhancing school infrastructure and educational facilities, development of sustainable livelihoods and income generation, entrepreneurship and market access, gender and youth empowerment activities including skills development and capacity building.
Speaking during the opening, Rohini Jayalatha, immediate past president of the Track 6 Women’s Society said, “The biggest gift given to us by John Keells is the access to safe drinking water. Chronic kidney disease is one of the biggest challenges faced in the North Central and Eastern Provinces, with many of our villagers being identified as patients. It is a serious illness that has affected many households impacting not only their health but their ability to earn an income.”
Vilpanakulama in Gomarankadawela DS Division is the other village selected to benefit from the Reverse Osmosis treatment facility. Speaking at the commissioning of the plant, Sameera Ruwan Kumara, Grama Sevaka of 231C Kalyanapura said, “This is great service done for our villagers. We have had to travel to neighbouring villages to get access to safe drinking water; this was very difficult as there were over 200 families in that village already using the reverse osmosis plant. Now that we have our own reverse osmosis plant, it is much easier and our villagers are guaranteed access to safe drinking water.”
The latest project is in line with John Keells Foundation’s focus area of health, aimed at creating productive and healthy societies.