Reinforcing its commitment to bring clean sanitation facilities to all, Harpic together with the Ministry of City Planning & Water supply completed the first set of 100 toilets the two parties have committed to build each year. The Shri Wijeya Early Child Development Centre, Ransegoda South, Kamburupitiya was among over 30 beneficiaries in the Matara district to receive a new sanitation facility in the first phase of the project, committed to by Harpic and the Ministry of City Planning & Water supply in 2017. The Shri Wijeya Early Child Development Centre, Ransegoda South, Kamburupitiya was established over 40 year ago, but has never had a proper toilet facility until now. An estimated 50 children under the age of 6 years old, receive their first introduction to formal schooling at such institutions across Sri Lanka. This semi-formal primary education structure is also the first time most of the toddlers learn to use a toilet independently, a vital lesson that will hopefully stay with them through to their adulthood. In March 2017, Harpic launched the ‘Harpic Suwa Jana Meheyuma; Mission Wellbeing’, in collaboration with the Ministry to elevate the status of hygiene across households in Sri Lanka. The project sought to build 100 toilets annually in selected districts and begun in the Katana area in the Western province.
Hon. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply, who has been a key proponent in the project since its inception said: “We had a very positive response to the project in 2017, and hope that we can continue this initiative to drive good sanitation and hygiene.” Meanwhile, Mr. P Mohotty, Matara District Public Health Inspector, addressing the gathering stated that “there are many areas across the island where families suffer without proper sanitation facilities. Access to proper and clean sanitation is an overlooked area in Sri Lanka’s development and has left over 1000 households without access to this basic facility. It is estimated that nearly two percent of the population practice open defecation due to the lack of toilets, while a further two percent share a common toilet. The Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply has identified the need for nearly 180,000 toilets across Sri Lanka.
Harpic’s current efforts of building toilets is only the first step of a much bigger national project that hopes to address Sri Lanka’s sanitation issues that go deeper than the unclean toilet we see on the surface. Advancing its commitment, Rs. 5 from every 500ml bottle of Harpic sold is channelled towards the project. Commenting on the progress of the project Sri Lanka Commercial Director for Reckitt Benckiser, Sinclair Cruise said: “There is more that needs to be done across Sri Lanka to address the sanitation issue. This project is one of many initiatives we have undertaken in this area and will continue to work in public spaces as well to improve the sanitation situation.”