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Coca-Cola sustains its commitment to Water Stewardship with latest water tank rehabilitation project in Monaragala in partnership with ACTED

Business News: Coca-Cola Beverage Sri Lanka (CCBSL) Ltd., along with the Coca-Cola Foundation, partnered with ACTED, the international NGO, in October 2018 to rehabilitate the Samurdhi Tank in Galahitiya village in Monaragala District, Uva Province and therein support the Parakum Farmers’ Organisation (FO) and the Ekamuthu Women’s Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) in Monaragala.

A formal ceremony took place on March 3rd 2020 to celebrate the third water tank rehabilitated by Coca-Cola in Sri Lanka and to hand over its management to the Department of Agrarian Development and community stakeholders. Through the rehabilitated water tank and provision of water pumps, approximately 400 households and 1,700 local farmers will benefit from enhanced access to water for irrigation. An estimated 250 acres of additional farmland can now be cultivated, during both wet and dry season, thereby improving the livelihoods of local farmers, especially women, living in the vicinity of the tank.

Commenting on the impact of the newly rehabilitated tank, Chaminda Kumara Abeysinghe – President, Farmers Organization stated that, “Previously we would only farm on 20 acres; now we can farm on over 100 acres of land. This tank was something significant that was missing in our village and it has now been fulfilled. With this project, Coca-Cola really came into the village and supported us. Over 100 farmer families will be benefitted from this. This is a great strength for the Monaragala District as a whole.”

Pankaj Sinha – Managing Director, Coca-Cola Sri Lanka Private Ltd., added: “We were aware of the dire situation faced in the village due to prolonged periods of drought, which was severely affecting agricultural livelihoods. Since agriculture is the main source of the community’s income, we decided to rehabilitate the water reservoir, which would improve their harvesting potential and economically empower the women in the village.

Mr. Darragh Fingleton – ACTED Country Representative in Sri Lanka and India, emphasised how the project aligns with ACTED’s 3Zero programme strategy (“Zero Exclusion, Zero Carbon and Zero Poverty”) given its focus on the livelihood development of farmers, especially women. The project not only increases access to water but also provides skill development trainings to empower and support local farmers and income generation. For example, the project set up a demonstration plot to help the community gain practical knowledge on sustainable farming as well as supporting women within the community to establish a dry fish business.

In line with ACTED’s global programming, FO and WFO are also supported via organizational development trainings and on-the-job mentoring. ACTED uses its Grassroots Operational Capacity Assessment (GOCA) tool to ensure that trainings are tailored to real needs. With enhanced capacity, these two organizations will be able to effectively support their members and the continual development of the community beyond the lifespan of the project.

Rehabilitation of the water tank in Monaragala is but one of the many water stewardship projects conducted by CCBSL across Sri Lanka in strategic partnership with government bodies, NGOs and other institutions for a wider impact. Recently, CCBSL helped reconstruct and refurbish two ancient water tanks in Anuradhapura with their partner We Effect, thereby restoring the basic right of access to water to marginalized communities in the region, an act that instantly transforms their livelihoods and infuses hope for a better future.

At a global level, the Company recognizes that water is essential to the health of communities and their prosperity and has embarked on a variety of initiatives in Sri Lanka and around the world, to bring clean water to communities and increase public awareness about the importance of conserving water.