Access to safe drinking water is a basic human need and in order to restore this right for communities in Biyagama, Gampaha, Coca-Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd. (CCBSL) partnered with The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS), Gampaha branch, for a flood response initiative to clean contaminated wells as it has been done in similar instances in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Sri Lanka felt the effects of climate change yet again in the month of May this year, as heavy monsoons and inconsistent rainfall patterns wreaked havoc. The devastating flood contaminated most of the drinking water sources in Biyagama in the Gampaha district, especially wells, depriving local communities of their access to safe water. Climate Action is a key pillar in Coca-Cola’s sustainability agenda globally and responding to climate induced disasters is a priority therein. Therefore, as was done in the past, Coca-Cola took immediate action to respond once again to the disaster that struck Biyagama, where the CCBSL factory premises is located.
Mr. Lakshan Madurasinghe, Director – Public Affairs, Communication and Sustainability of CCBSL said, “Coca-Cola is always there to support our communities when they need us the most. We are grateful to the partnership with SLRCS for the 4th time around to provide relief and ensuring access to the safe availability of water for communities and homes affected by the recurring floods. Response to climate induced disasters will continue being a priority for us at Coca-Cola, while we will also continue working on more sustainability initiatives to tackle climate change, such as the implementation of one of the largest single location rooftop solar projects in Sri Lanka, in our factory premises in Biyagama.”
SLRCS and CCBSL identified 600 wells in flood-affected areas with the support of divisional secretariats, GN officers, PHIs, and Red Cross Divisional Volunteers working in the field. SLRCS mobilized experienced community members from within the flood affected areas to support this initiative on a cash for work basis, together with professional well cleaners.
The wells were cleaned and chlorinated under the guidance and observation of Public Health Inspectors (PHI)s and technical experts of the SLRCS monitoring team. Prior to use, the condition of the water for human consumption was certified by the PHIs. Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Mahesh Gunasekara – Director General – SLRCS added, “Sri Lanka is placed high in the climate risk index. Climate change is an everyday reality now and is disrupting lives and negatively affecting communities in many ways. Disaster response is a key priority for SLRCS and we are thankful to Coca-Cola for once again for leading the well cleaning project and partnering with us to restore critical sources of drinking water for local communities in Biyagama”