More than 800 families in two villages on the outskirts of Pooneryn, a township on the northern coast below the Jaffna peninsula, have been provided with life-sustaining year-round water supply through an initiative by Brandix and HSBC.
The first of the two-phase initiative consisted of building two solar-powered water supply systems for the villages of Pallikudah and Neplow, situated five and three kilometres respectively from Pooneryn, an area that suffers from severe shortages of drinking water for several months of the year.
The two water supply schemes built under this community project comprising two overhead tanks of 5000 litres each, one feeding three storage tanks of 2000 litres with taps at strategic points in Pallikudah and, the other supplying two similar sized storage tanks in Neplow, are powered by solar energy to minimise the maintenance costs in consideration of the economic situation of the communities they serve.
Construction of the two water supply schemes was undertaken by the Sri Lanka Army's 661 Brigade, with funds provided by Brandix and HSBC.
"Brandix and HSBC share a common interest in helping communities affected by inadequate water supply," said Anusha Alles, the Brandix Group's Head of CSR. "This makes it easy for the two companies to work together to bring tangible and sustainable benefits to such communities. Besides the commitment of funds, Brandix also brings to the collaboration extensive experience in working with local authorities and communities at the grassroots level on water supply projects."
Dilini Fernando, Manager Corporate Sustainability at HSBC added: "HSBC is pleased to have partnered with Brandix in this initiative that aligns well within our global water programme. Post the civil war, residents in the Neplow and Pallikudah areas were affected with the shortage of drinking water which was one of the most critical problems faced by the community in the village. Following the implementation of the water programme, many residents have benefitted with access to drinking water. As we continue in our efforts, HSBC will look to work with other communities around the country by supporting similar projects in future."
The project to provide water supply infrastructure to Pallikudah and Neplow was launched in March last year as part of the commitment of the two companies to the UN World Water Day initiative. In July the previous year, Brandix and HSBC mounted a humanitarian relief operation to take water to drought affected families in six villages in Vavuniya and four villages in the Anamaduwa area.
Of the two villages benefitted by this latest collaboration of Brandix and HSBC, Neplow, which is home to some 350 families resettled after the end of the conflict, suffers from drinking water shortages for six to eight months of the year. When the drought is most severe during the months of July, August and September, even the water in the few wells in the village cannot be consumed due to high salinity.
Pallikudah, which accommodates 450 families, is similarly affected. Both communities are sustained by fishing and farming, the two principal livelihoods in Pooneryn.
The second phase of this initiative, which will commence later this year, will involve the development of livelihood programmes for these two villages.
The Brandix Group's principal CSR efforts are driven by the central corporate theme of 'Water' and constitute a long term commitment to increasing the availability of water and the provision of safe drinking water to those most in need. The Group's community outreach initiatives also include providing wells and pipe-borne water to communities in and around its manufacturing plants and the improvement of sanitation facilities in needy areas.
Water has also become a priority focus of HSBC's Corporate Sustainability agenda. In 2012, HSBC committed to a five year partnership with WWF, Water Aid and Earthwatch to address the growing water issues in the world. The USD 100 million programme will see many projects and research carried out around the world to tackle water risks in river basins; bring safe water and improved sanitation to over a million people; and raise awareness about the global water challenge.