I have just returned from Sri Lanka. Our first system is being installed in “Restoration Village, a community of 92 homes being constructed in the hills above Tangalle Bay in the Hambantota District. The village is being constructed by a group from Texas – International Service Partners. They are starting from scratch – literally had to clear a path through the jungle for the homes – and construction is underway.
UNDP has provided us with a list of 9 tsunami-stricken schools for possible installations; we are evaluating each of the sites to be sure that our technology is appropriate (we cannot desalinate). In the meantime, the Rotary Clubs of Colombo and Colombo Regency, Sunila Abeysekera (1998 UN Human Rights Award Recipient), the PM’s office and several other organizations are short-listing sites for the other 40 systems. Reconstruction is happening at a snail’s pace in Sri Lanka, due in large part to the government’s inability to gain popular support of a 100-200 meter “no build” zone in coastal areas. Thus, people are in temporary settlements – unable to rebuild where the foundations of their homes remain – yet without alternative lands for building communities as alternatives. It is a very frustrating process that we are learning to navigate.
We will be sending a second shipment of systems in late May, with hopes that by then, we will have been able to identify appropriate sites for them. The Jinasena Group, a well-respected Sri Lankan company that manufactures water pumps, and with a nationwide reach, is helping us install the systems, and will be on call to trouble shoot them as part of a technical services program.
We recently received notification that our USTDA grant application has been approved, so we are making good progress towards funding the full program.