Reiterating its commitment to uplifting the well-being of local communities and honouring waste-collecting communities in Sri Lanka this World Recycling Day, The Coca-Cola Foundation (TCCF) has come together with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) to provide immediate assistance to address food insecurity among marginalized waste-collectors. Accordingly, TCCF and SLRCS is providing much-needed essential food packages, which includes dry rations and medicine, to over 1,800 families for whom waste collection is the primary source of income in 10 selected districts.
With the World Bank estimating a 25% increase in Sri Lanka’s poverty level in 2022, countless families, in the country have been forced to reduce the number of meals consumed per day. The nutritional value of meals had also been compromised due to high prices, and those below the poverty line were further burdened.
Therefore, at this critical juncture, TCCF and SLRCS extended the former’s ‘Say We Care’ programme to identify and provide relief packages to vulnerable waste-collector families from over 10 districts. Notably, the aforementioned districts had reported high numbers of communities negatively impacted by the economic conditions, including waste collectors. Over 1,800 food packages, which will help a family of 4 to 5 members sustain for 2 months approximately, will be distributed among waste-collectors with women/single-headed households, low-income families (daily wage earners), households without a permanent residence, a household with members who are terminally ill or physically or mentally challenged, households with children under the age of 5 or pregnant or lactating mothers with nutrition deficiencies, households with elderly without permanent income in the targeted community. The food packages, each weighing approximately 45Kg, consisted of dry rations such as rice, dhal, wheat flour, sprats, canned fish, nutritional grains such as chick-pea, and other household necessities such as soap, disinfectant, toothpaste, etc. By supporting these families and easing their economic struggles to put a meal on the table, TCCF is able to enhance the waste-collection and recycling ecosystem in the country.
The initiative is a relief to many who have been unable to keep up with spiking food costs. Thilaka Rohini, the head of her family of three from Homagama, shared her gratitude to TCCF and SLRCS, stating, “My family and I are thankful for the relief packages we received today. I have been working as a waste-collector for over 10 years, and this economic crisis is one of the hardest we’ve had to face. We do not receive any assistance, hence we are quite helpless. I am thankful for the support given by The Coca-Cola Foundation and Sri Lanka Red Cross Society for their timely support.’
Commenting on the reach of this project and the next phase of the ‘Say We Care’ initiative, Saadia Madsbjerg, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation shared, ‘In Sri Lanka, TCCF has taken remarkable strides to uplift communities adversely impacted by many crises. We are grateful for our long- partnership with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, a non-profit organization that has enabled us to successfully implement many supportive initiatives in the country.’
Additionally, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Director General, Dr. Mahesh Gunasekara, stated, “It gives us great pleasure to see a global entity like The Coca-Cola Foundation take a genuine interest in the wellbeing of our country and its communities. Every partnership with the TCCF thus far has been fruitful, and we have seen the lives they have changed for the better. This instance of the partnership is unique—it is intended to address the food security needs of a group of individuals who provide a crucial service to the society but have not been duly recognized. We thank TCCF for the opportunity to collaborate and make a difference again, and we look forward to more collaborations to give back to our communities.”
Notably, TCCF and the SLRCS had partnered previously to execute emergency response initiatives in the country, especially during COVID-19. The collaboration enabled the successful completion of national-level programmes such as distributing 6000+ essential packs to vulnerable communities, 16,800 PCR test kits and VTM to the Ministry of Health, and PPE for 250,000+ frontline workers through the ‘Stop the Spread’ fund. Overall, The Coca-Cola Foundation provided LKR 110 million to the national response combating COVID-19 in the island.