In a ceremony organized in Mannar on 29 August 2017, the European Union and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) officially handed over new and renovated infrastructure critical for flood control within the Mannar Urban Council Area. These infrastructures include over 14 kilometers of drainage canals, 117 culverts and the renovation of 6 ponds within the Urban Council (UC) that are critical for flood water control and improving ground water quality.
These activities were implemented with financial assistance provided through the European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP), with a total financial envelope of EUR 60 million. The programme aims to support the Government of Sri Lanka’s thrust for economic and social development in seven conflict-affected districts covering half a million people. The EU-SDDP is implemented by six organizations including UNOPS.
The event organized near the Nedunkulam Tankwas graced by, Ms. Libuse Soukupova, Head of Development Cooperation, Delegation of European Union to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Mr Sudhir Muralidharan, Head of Support Services of UNOPS Sri Lanka, Mr. Xavier Lamberd the Secretary of the Mannar UC and Mr M.A.J. Thuram the Regional ACLG for Mannar. A walkway and children’s play area were also developed around the Nedunkulam Tank as part of the renovation and this has made the site a favorite recreational location for members of the community.
Speaking at the event, Ms Libuse Soukupova said that “Seasonal flooding has been a major problem for Mannar over the years and this has created negative impacts on the economic and social activities of the people”. She went on to add that “the European Union and UNOPS first partnered to resolve this problem in 2008 through a livelihood stabilization programme, under which UNOPS carried out a detailed hydrological study of the area. The EU-SDDP continued the work that was started under this initiative to help make the people of Mannar safe from the impact of flooding”.
Mr Sudhir Muralidharan also speaking on the event added that, “I want to highlight today the importance of maintaining these facilities. Everyone here today – not only the government officials, but also importantly the community members, have a responsibility in making sure that the drainage lines and the ponds are well maintained.”
UNOPS in partnership with the Urban Council, other partner government agencies and the communities have prepared a Drainage Maintenance Manual that has set out the processes for ensuring the cleanliness of the drainage lines and ponds so that they do not get blocked by garbage during rains. As part of the EU-SDDP activities, UNOPS also supported the Urban Council in reaching out to the community members to raise awareness about their responsibility in maintaining these facilities.
The handover event saw the participation of a number of stakeholders from the Government departments who had played an important role in the UNOPS component of the project, including the Road Development Authority (RDA), Road Development Department (RDD), Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB). The event also saw the participation ofover 70 community members including the Rural Development Society representative who will be important partners in maintaining the facilities that were developed.
Under the EU-SDDP framework, UNOPS is contributing to the construction and rehabilitation of social infrastructure and specific capacity building activities in Batticaloa, Mannar and Vavuniya district to benefit more than 450,000 people.