Business News: A six-way anicut with a capacity to irrigate approximately 300 acres of paddy land in drought-ridden Navaladiveli, Iranaipalai of the Mullaitivu District was declared open by John Keells Foundation (JKF) – the CSR entity of the John Keells Group – on 28th August 2020.
The anicut, which was constructed and vested with the public as the final initiative under JKF’s Village Adoption Project, is designed to optimize water resources for irrigation ensuring year-long supply of water to cultivate crops during both the Yala and Maha seasons and is expected to benefit over 100 farming families in Iranaipalai and adjoining areas.
“This initiative brings us great joy as this puts an end to our 50-year turmoil,” says Mr. John Amaranayakam, Secretary of the Farmer Organization in Iranaipalai. “We used to stack up close to 200 sand bags spending Rs. 75,000, at least three times a year, to prevent the water from going back to the sea. This anicut will enable each farmer to earn a profit of at least Rs. 250,000 a year.”
John Keells Foundation initiated its Village Adoption Project in Iranaipalai in Puthukkudiyiruppu DS and Puthumathalan in Maritimepattu DS in 2013 in collaboration with World Vision substantially investing in developing essential infrastructure, sustainable livelihoods and access to education and other opportunities for the communities in the two villages identified as areas most affected by the long drawn civil conflict and the last to be resettled following the end of the conflict.
Addressing the gathering at the vesting ceremony, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of Operations, CSR at John Keells Holdings PLC said, “When we first visited Iranaipalai and Puthumathalan with the representatives of World Vision in February 2013, what we witnessed was temporary housing, dilapidated boats and nets, paddy land deprived of irrigation, schools without adequate water and sanitation, classroom space and facilities, and many female-headed households affected by income challenges and social violence. Yet, in all the diverse community groups we met, we also sensed the positive human spirit and the determination to succeed. When we inquired whether the community would need support with housing or livelihoods, they were quick to choose livelihoods considering the long-term benefits the community would reap as a whole. We are happy to see the tremendous and far-reaching impact of our livelihood and educational initiatives in these areas. It is truly inspiring!”
“We believe when you equip a community you are providing them with the necessary tools to help their children experience fullness of life. This project which was initiated and funded by John Keells Foundation and implemented by World Vision, ensures livelihood support and most importantly food security for the whole community. We are glad that we were able to pave the way for impact that lasts for generations,” said Dr. Dhanan Senathirajah, National Director of World Vision Lanka.
Over its 7-year span, the John Keells Foundation’s Village Adoption Project in Mullaitivu has directly supported 100 fishermen with the provision of boats, engines, nets, safety equipment and capacity development and 20 families of women-headed households with the provision of dairy cows, with both groups sharing project dividend with other members of the community, thereby creating a notable ripple effect in development.
In addition to the newly constructed anicut, farmer communities of the area have been supported by the construction of a 1.2 km Agro road in Iranaipalai benefitting over 200 farmers. The Family Empowerment Programme conducted in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross supported economic and social integration of 30 selected families affected by the conflict.
As regards school and educational support, the Project has not only fulfilled essential infrastructure requirements of both the Mu/Iranaipalai R.C.M.V. and Mu/Mathalan R.C.G.T. schools such as water and sanitation, a new classroom building with a fully furnished computer lab in the Iranaipalai school, a renovated rainwater harvesting tank and school kitchen in the Mathalan School but also facilitated strategic skills development through English language scholarships and preparatory classes for public examinations that have resulted in pass rates of 90-100% in the O’Level and A’Level examinations respectively.
Other key development activities include a Community Centre for the Fisheries Society in Mathalan, career guidance and sports facilities for youth as well as many capacity building and skills development programs for fishermen, farmers women and youth in both villages.
JKF also collaborated with The Asia Foundation to renovate and upgrade the Women and Children’s Desk at the Puthukudiyiruppu Police Station and to conduct gender sensitization and training of trainer programs for Police Officers of Mullaitivu SSP Division as well as community outreach awareness sessions towards preventing and addressing gender-based violence and child abuse.
The vesting of the six-way anicut in Iranapalai, Mullaitivu was graced by K. Vimalanathan, District Secretary of Mullaitivu, Mr. Punithakumar, Assistant Director of the Agrarian Department, Mr. S. Jeyakanth, Divisional Secretary Puthukudiyiruppu and Mr. M. Umamakal, the Divisional Secretary Maritimepatru.
The John Keells Group was represented by Mr. Suresh Rajendra, President-Property Group, Ms. Nadija Tambiah, Head of Legal, Secretarial & CSR, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of Operations – CSR and Mr. K. Kokilan, Head of Sales-Cluster 4, Union Assurance. Dr. Dhanan Senathirajah, National Director and Mr. Clarence Sutharasan, Director of Marketing and Engagement represented World Vision Lanka.