Why are we doing this?
The 32 families of this village were forced to leave during the 1990s and have only just returned after spending two decades in refugee camps in India.
“We had lived in the camps in India for 21 years. There, we had toilets in our home; here we do not. We try to eat fewer foods because we fear going long distances at night. When our relatives or classmates wish to come to our house, we are not in a position to invite them. We will not tell them that there is no toilet facility on our house. Everyday my sister is crying about this situation.” - Sundareshwari, Resident of the village
Returning to their village after 2010, the 32 families found that their homes and land were destroyed, and they were left with nothing. They are currently living in temporary shelters with no toilet facilities and only one common well in the village that does not provide enough water for everyone.
The lack of access to water and sanitation causes many problems. Without toilets, the villagers have to go into the forest for this basic need. This is especially unsafe for women, young children and people with a disability.
Without an adequate source of water, sometimes the villagers have to travel more than 1-2 km to collect water for drinking. Also, the local Kallaru River is being used for bathing and laundering purposes. Ultimately, all these issues cause poor health and hygiene, many cases of water-borne diseases and environmental degradation.
Kumari, one of the mothers in the village shares that "There is the school in front of our house and behind is the temple of Goddess Kali. Therefore, we need to go far away to the jungle, which is a huge threat. Most of the time, the men are going there for work purposes and we don’t have any privacy. A toilet will make a big difference for our family."
How this project will work?
As part of constructing the toilets, we will incorporate the needs of the 4 families that include people with a disability. The construction of the toilets for these families will be tailored to ensure disability access is provided. Additionally, bore wells will be constructed to ensure they can be used by people with a disability as well.
Training through our Health Awareness Program is essential to this project because it is education that creates long-term behavioural changes. Knowledge of health, hygiene and the maintenance of toilets ensures the villagers are able to experience better health for the rest of their lives.
Local employment will be hired for the toilet and tube well construction. This will create a sense of ownership of the project and provide much needed income to the villagers.
- Access to clean water and sanitation so infection from water-borne disease will be reduced and the men, women and children of the village can lead healthier lives.
- Better health so that children can spend more time at school, and adults miss less days of work. This means in the long-term, education and income will increase, and poverty will be reduced in this village.
- Increased safety because water and toilets are closer to home. Travelling long distances into the forest areas alone is dangerous, especially for women and children.
- Above all, access to clean water and sanitation means improved dignity, freedom and choice, as the villagers can take pride in their homes and community.
How do we ensure the project is sustainable after we leave?
- The project was co-designed with the villagers, to ensure local needs are best being met.
- A village committee will be formed to manage the maintenance of the bore wells. The first two years maintenance costs is included in this project.
- Toilets have been designed with local weather conditions in mind, ensuring that they can withstand floods. Training on the maintenance of these toilets will be given to all 32 families.
The Federation of Social Development Organisations (FOSDOO) is qualified to deliver this project because it has a strong history of delivering water and sanitation projects in the Vavuniya District. FOSDOO has been trained by International NGO’s such as Oxfam and have implemented programs for many INGO’s. With this experience in water and sanitation, Palmera is excited to be working with FOSDOO to deliver this project. You can visit the FOSDOO website to find out more.