One hundred and forty nine farmer families in the Polonnaruwa District are being helped under a new community project of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to make the transition to better housing after their homes were damaged or destroyed in floods in December 2010.
The pharmaceuticals and vaccines company has provided Rs 4.5 million to Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka to build ‘transitional shelters’ comprising of superstructure and roof that will enable these families to live in and complete their homes before the next monsoonal inundation.
With these funds presented by Abbas Hussain, GSK’s President – Emerging Markets & Asia Pacific, Habitat for Humanity is working with the beneficiaries of the project to build 149 houses in eight areas of the Polonnaruwa District -- Singhapura, Aselapura, Welikanda, Senapura, Manampitiya, Sevanapitiya, Wijebhapura and Damminna.
Subsequent to the release of the first instalment of funds by GSK Sri Lanka to the NGO, several of these transitional shelters, which are stronger than the huts that many of these families previously lived in, have already been completed. Many more are under construction and the project is scheduled to be completed before the onset of the northeast monsoon.
“Sustainability has been a key consideration of GSK’s community initiatives, which largely focus on healthcare-related requirements, to uplift the lives of Sri Lankans in need,” GSK Pharmaceuticals Sri Lanka Managing Director, Stuart Chapman said. “Through our support to this housing project we have extended our commitment to the community in another vital sphere.”
As part of its commitment to this latest project, GSK is monitoring the progress of construction with reports provided by Habitat for Humanity and visits to the construction sites. The funds provided by the company provide the wooden structures and cover the purchase and installation of roofing sheets. The new shelters are more robust and offer a much higher degree of protection from the elements to occupants providing a sustainable approach to relief work by Habitat for Humanity.
In the longer term Habitat for Humanity will provide beneficiaries with low interest loans to help turn the shelters into permanent dwellings.
This latest initiative complements GSK’s support to people affected by the December 2010 floods. Earlier this year, the company donated essential medicine worth Rs. 2 million to the government to be distributed among flood victims.
The floods of December 2010 resulted in more than one million people in Sri Lanka losing their homes either fully or partially. In addition, over 200,000 acres of cultivated paddy fields were completely destroyed, wells were polluted and infrastructure such as roads and culverts became impassable.
GSK and its predecessors have been doing business in Sri Lanka since the late 1930s. The company has committed Rs. 39 million to an ongoing three year programme to empower persons with disabilities in the South by the Leonard Cheshire Disability. GSK also spent Rs. 29 million to help restore healthcare systems and improve service capacity in affected areas and donated essential medications for those affected, in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Among other community initiatives by GSK are the donation of a fully equipped high dependency unit (HDU) to the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital and the refurbishments of wards at the Welisara Chest Hospital and the Lunawa District Hospital.
Created in 1995, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka is a registered non-governmental organisation whose mission is to provide simple, decent, affordable housing to people in need. The organisation has completed more than 12,000 houses in the country.