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Australian Government contributes US$ 2.6 million to UNICEF-supported Water and Sanitation Project in Puttalam


23 May 2006

Thousands of children of conflict-affected families and their host communities will benefit from clean water and sanitation

Colombo, – Thanks to the generous contribution of US$2.6 million from the people and the Government of Australia, two thousand families, including 3,500 children, who escaped to Puttalam from the violence in the north and east of Sri Lanka, will have access to clean water and sanitation – vital elements for children to grow up healthy. In addition, thousands of people in the host communities in the Puttalam district will benefit from this UNICEF-supported project, which is led by the Ministry of Nation Building and Development in cooperation with the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and the Ministry of Health.

The families, from all communities, are a part of more than 60,000 persons displaced by the war who have lived in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps (also known as social welfare centers) for more than ten years. The Government of Sri Lanka, in cooperation with the World Bank and UN Habitat, recently started an initiative to help this vulnerable population resettle and rebuild a new life in the Puttalam district. Australian Government funding will add the much needed water and sanitation component to this multi-agency programme.

Many communities in the Puttalam District face frequent water shortages. Over the next two years, this new project will construct a number of water supply systems and toilets in an environmentally friendly manner.

The Australian High Commissioner, Dr Greg French, stated “This assistance demonstrates Australia’s commitment to help those affected by the conflict. It will provide equitable access to basic water and sanitation services and, importantly, will improve the health of children and adults in these vulnerable communities.”

Under this project, children in the area will also benefit from the construction of child-friendly toilets in ten primary schools, combined with hygiene education. In addition, the project will build capacities within the communities so that they will be able to maintain and manage their water and sanitation systems in the long term.

JoAnna VanGerpen, UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative stated: “Community involvement is a key for sustainable development. I hope this project will set an example that can be replicated in other areas to benefit children and their families who have been affected by years of conflict as well as their surrounding communities.”


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