A pioneering initiative to empower women community leaders involved in water resources management in rural Sri Lanka has been launched by the Brandix Group, in recognition of the fact that community-based organisations (CBOs) are responsible for a sixth of the country’s water supply.
The programme titled ‘Jalavahini’ will see Sri Lanka’s single largest apparel exporter, whose principal community engagement is also focussed on water, conducting a series of interactive training programmes across the country for women with ‘hands-on’ roles at the grassroots level in the water sector, in collaboration with NetWwater (Network of Women Water Professionals).
The first of these training programmes was ceremonially inaugurated by Water Supply and Drainage Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena at the Water Resources Board / Brandix Training Centre, Anuradhapura, for a representative group of women from the North Central Province, a region facing many serious water-related challenges. The Training Centre was built and donated to the government of Sri Lanka by Brandix and Gap Inc., USA in September 2007.
Speaking at the event, Minister Gunawardena said the government had given its blessings to these community-based organisations. In the Anuradhapura District alone, 19 percent of potable piped water was supplied by CBOs, the minister said. "This programme sponsored by Brandix is extremely important because it will help these organisations to develop an effective action plan by identifying future difficulties, challenges and trends," he said.
The Minister said the National Community Water Trust was set up outside the purview of government departments and companies to give them security, technology, strength and independence, and that his ministry would extend its cooperation to enable them to invest their earnings and make profits.
He said the government was appreciative of the support of Brandix to this effort.