NDB facilitates improved water and sanitation access in rural schools

Sri Lanka, May 27, 2014: National Development Bank (NDB) joined hands with the Sri Lanka Water Partnershipto improve water supply and sanitation facilities in rural schools; thereby improving access to education and promoting good health of students and teachers. The pilot project was launched in 2013, initiating rain water harvesting systems for purposes of maintaining hygiene in two marginalized schools in the Central Province. Following the success of these pilots, rainwater harvesting has been extended to thirteen rural schools island wide by May this year.

Out of a population of 20.86 million in Sri Lanka, approximately 8% have no access to improved sanitation and 9% lack access to improved water supplies (2010). Huge progress has been made in the past 20 years where open defecation has almost totally been eradicated except in a few pockets.

However, sanitation and hygiene are still critically important, as diarrhoea is reported to be the second biggest killer of children in South Asia.AlthoughSri Lanka's access to quality drinking water is around 82%, improving school sanitation and access to water is an important area that still needs attention; given that there are reportedly over 1,299 schools with poor sanitary facilities. While some of these schools have no access to pure water and sanitation, most others suffer due to damaged systems due to poor maintenance.

Identifying this as an acute need of the nation, NDB together with the Sri Lanka Water Partnership have implemented a rain water harvesting system for identified rural schools in the country. Rainwater harvesting is the most sustainable method to provide a source of water for all purposes such as toilet flushing, washing hands etc. It is one of the most promising alternatives for supplying water in the face of increasing water scarcity and escalating demand. As a part of this project, NDB also renovated the sanitary facilities of the schools in a bid to ensure better hygiene levels for students. The Bank hopes to extend this programme further to bring better water supply and sanitation to school children in underserved regions in the country.

Sharing her thoughts on the initiative, KusumAthukorala, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Water Partnership said, "Poor access to sustainable school sanitation can lead to multiple present and future health issues for students and teachers. It is noted that poor sanitation leads students and teachers to control their water intake during school times with detrimental impacts. Girl children may miss school during menstruation due to lack of proper sanitation facilities and changing facilities. Further, it is high time menstrual hygiene awareness programs leading to provision of suitable facilities are conducted at school level. Thus emphasis on access to water and sanitation not only plays a key role in maintaining health standards but also supports the maintenance of education standards of the country. However we also need to keep in mind that provision of sanitation infrastructure does not in itself provide a sustainable school sanitation system. On-going maintenance and regular cleansing systems need joint action programs involving teachers, students and parents. This calls for advocacy and attitudinal change"

Commenting on the initiative, Chief Operating Officer of NDB Indrajit Wickramasinghe said, " Evidently, investing in sanitation in schools is an investment in education and this is one of the most valuable ventures a corporate can make in the future of the nation. Education fights poverty, empowers people, uplifts families and transforms communities." (Source: Daily News- Sri Lanka) 

27-05-2014 | Posted by Admin