Creating awareness among rural community:
'Water issues in villages getting worse'
Sangeetha Anthony, who is in her twenties, wants her friends and
villagers in Bandarawela to conserve water.
In the aftermath of the infamous Weliweriya incident, where people
are clamouring for clean water, a group of young women from several
districts, took part in a program organised to educate people to
conserve water and to make them aware of their rights regarding water.
"Water issues are getting worse in the villages", Sangeetha said.
They had to struggle for clean, drinking water as most of the streams
were polluted, she said.
The one-day workshop on 'Capacity building for young women for
ensuring community water security' was organised by the Sri Lanka Water
Partnership, Netwater and YWCA.
Sangeetha representing a youth community-based organisation attached
to the YWCA said she would educate members of the organisation about
conserving water in her village.
" Most importantly, I will educate them about their rights to
conserve water and also to react against those who pollute the water",
According to Sangeetha, there are small streams which overflow. "
Some people are not concerned about saving this water as the water just
continues to flow and is wasted and not put to proper use. I now feel
how useful it will be if we can build small tanks downstream and use the
water when the stream runs dry", she said.
Armed with the knowledge she gained from the workshop which taught
them about the quality of water, how polluted water harms health, the
causes of climate change, their responsibilities to contribute less to
greenhouse gases that lead to climate change, their rights as women to
conserve water and the authorities they can inform in the event water is
polluted. Sangeetha thinks that youth have a greater responsibility to
Kusum Athukorala, Chair of NetWater and the Sri Lanka Water
Partnership, said that climate change adaptation for communities would
be crucial in their struggle to achieve water security in a fast
" Sri Lanka Water Partnership and its partners have promoted an
evidence-based advocacy for community groups especially women , youth
This activity at the YWCA brings together young women representatives
from 24 groups who will transmit their knowledge to their communities",
Athukorala, who won the 'Women in Water Award for Leadership
Development' in 2012 said.
She said a follow-up action based on their perceived needs is planned
through the host organisation. "The next in this series will be held in
Jaffna" Athukorala said.
Prof. Champa Navarathne, of the University of Ruhuna speaking about
climate change and issues in conserving water made the young women aware
of the harmful effects of greenhouse gases and their contribution to
" As mothers, sisters and daughters you have a great responsibility
to educate your family to preserve the environment as well as clean
water, which is gradually depleting due to pollution", she said.
Priyani Gunatilake of the Central Environmental Authority spoke about
pollution and the causes for it.
Ramya Weerasinghe of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board
spoke about the importance of catmint conservation.
Participants at the workshop
" The best method to have clean and safe water for drinking is by
boiling water", she said.
Living in a village known as Kolapalelikanda, three km off the
Kurunegala Town, Shaymalee Martha, took part in the workshop to get more
information why wells in her area, which were full of water all the year
round were now running dry.
" We never felt a water scarcity in our village but since the last
drought we have less water in wells. Water is pumped to the town from
the main lake in the area but there is less water in our wells now", she
Kolapalelikanda, where over 200 families live on well water still
lack pipeborne water coverage. "We have to go to the temple or the
church to have baths and use bottled water for drinking", she lamented.
However, Shamalee said she had gathered much information at the
workshop and intends to discuss them in community-based organisations in
the village where she is a member.
"I think the best way is to get youth in those community-based
organisations to take the message in conserving water. As womenwe learnt
about our rights and responsibilities", she said.
Sharmini Tennakoon, President of the Panadura YWCA said she would
reach out to the community and create awareness on conserving water
through women empowerment.
Anoma Rajapaksa who came from Rambukkana, also represented a family
who faced difficulties in finding clean drinking water.
"As a mother, walking a few miles to get water for drinking is a
daily hassle:, she said adding that she hoped that women in villages
took part in such workshops to improve their knowledge and awareness of
She said she was happy she was now aware where to complain about
those who pollute water.