Australia and World Vision in AUD 3.8 million partnership for sustainable development

Australia and World Vision are partnering in a AUD3.8 million water and sanitation program for children and their communities in the Nuwara Eliya district. The partnership is in collaboration with the Central and Local governments, Plantation management and community based organizations.

The most recently completed water and sanitation project was launched in Elgin Estate of Watawala Plantations on Tuesday.  It was attended by Her Excellency Ms Robyn Mudie, High Commissioner for Australia in Sri Lanka, Suresh Bartlett, National Director of World Vision Lanka, and Dr Dan Seevaratnam, CEO of Watawala Plantations.

The project cost LKR 20 million and will provide safe and clean drinking water and improved sanitation for 800 people, including nearly 400 women and 300 children. It links two communities from the Upper and Lower divisions of Elgin Estate as they come together to complete maintenance work.

“We are pleased that the rural water supply systems have been designed and built to ensure safe drinking water for the estate families who have previously been susceptible to water-borne diseases. Access to clean water will have significant impact on the community, in particular on estate women both at home and at work and will improve their quality of life”, said High Commissioner Mudie.

“A special impact of this project is not only to ensure sustainable water and sanitation services but the forging of relationships between isolated communities and those responsible for providing services,” said Suresh Bartlett.

“I was always reluctant to work with any NGO because all of them want high visibility and look for projects by the roadside with easy access – I wanted people willing to work in the backwoods of our estates with isolated communities. World Vision is one such organization - they engage in programmes from grass root level and apply a bottom up approach,” said Dr. Seevaratnam.

“Ensuring peace and fostering harmony amongst communities is a key focus for Australia. We are delighted to be able to partner with World Vision to make this a reality,” said High Commissioner Mudie.

The project was part of the Rural Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (RIWASH) program, funded by the Australian Government (through its aid agency AusAID) and implemented by World Vision.

The RIWASH program aims to provide water supply and sanitation facilities, common bathing places, and storm water drainage systems to over 23,000 people, including 2,800 school children, who are scattered over a number of estates, schools and rural villages in the Ambagamuwa and Nuwara Eliya DS Divisions.

To date, over 10,000 individuals have benefitted from improved water and sanitation facilities in the Ambagamuwa and Nuwara Eliya region.

The RIWASH programme will also engage the community, plantation management, and local government officials to implement the Government of Sri Lanka’s Rural Water and Sanitation Supply Policy, further strengthening governance and community structures.

Nuwara Eliya is among the most disadvantaged districts in Sri Lanka, with significant levels of poverty and poor health statistics. Although home to abundant water sources, its water and sanitation access is the lowest in the country.

World Vision Lanka has a long history of working in Sri Lanka and in the Plantation Sector. Its Ambagamuwa Area Development Programme commenced nearly 15 years ago in 1997. The organization has expanded its programmes to Nuwara Eliya, Bogawantalawa, Pathana and Walapane in recent years. Its long term grassroots presence ensures such projects meet the needs of the communities. RIWASH is integrated with the larger longer term development programs of World Vision.

The AUD3.8 million funding for the partnership with World Vision is part of Australia’s development cooperation program with Sri Lanka, which will total more than AUD40 million in 2012-13. Australian development assistance focuses primarily on health, education and sustainable economic development, with programs located in lagging regions across the country.