The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Cleaner pastures for one Sri Lankan hospital
The District General Hospital of Vavuniya can do what it does best — care for the health of people — without worrying about sewage and waste water contaminating the environment.
A new sewage and wastewater treatment facility was inaugurated and handed over to local authorities on 16 February.
Previously, the hospital's sewage disposal system consisted of several septic tanks and soakage pits, which were routinely overloaded and clogged. Wastewater would drain from the hospital, contaminating irrigation canals, and polluting water systems in the area. The health of patients was at risk. It became clear that the situation had to change.
"The topics of waste, waste water and sewage are often forgotten until they become a nuisance or a public health risk," explained UNOPS Director Françoise Jacob, at the ceremony.
The Ambassador of the EU to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, H.E. Tung-Laï Margue, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Una McCauley, UNOPS Director Ms. Françoise Jacob and the Hon. Dr. Pathmanathan Sathiyalingam, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine of the Northern Province, marked the event.
The support UNOPS and the EU provide is not limited to the building of the facilities. We also work to improve the capacity of hospital staff on the operation and maintenance of the system as well as raise public awareness on water management issues,
Providing regional support from Colombo, UNOPS focuses on providing social and economic benefits to vulnerable populations across Sri Lanka.
With 1 million euros from the EU, UNOPS worked with consultants, local authorities, the Central Environmental Authority and communities to finalize designs for the plant.
Work included the development of a sewage collection system, supply and placement of sewer lines, and the construction of a wetland to receive treated water. Nearly 25,000 patients a month and 850 staff will benefit from the new facility. .
"The support UNOPS and the EU provide is not limited to the building of the facilities. We also work to improve the capacity of hospital staff on the operation and maintenance of the system as well as raise public awareness on water management issues," said Ms. Jacob.
The work was carried out as a part of the EU funded Support to District Development Programme, implemented by five UN agencies and the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group. UNOPS also supported the Vavuniya Urban Council on better flood management. This is part of the organization's broader focus in Sri Lanka on solid waste and water management, and support to sub-national authorities on stronger public services and good operational governance.