The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation in Sri Lanka (HSBC) and IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Sri Lanka Office entered into a partnership on 14 February, 2011 to restore the “Warawewa tank” for the development of livelihoods and ecosystems of Wilpotha in the Puttalam District.
On 2 July 2011, that partnership saw the very successful launch of the initiative at Wilpotha with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp which was festooned on a banana plant. The boiling of the milk at the auspicious time and the first cut into the earth was carried out by the HSBC Chief Executive Officer Sri Lanka and Maldives, Mr Nick A Nicolaou, Mr Tharanga Gunasekera, Head Marketing, Group Communications and Corporate Sustainability of HSBC, Mr Shamen Vidanage, Country Representative a.i. IUCN Sri Lanka and Ms H.H.A.D. Karunawathi Manike President of Wilpotha Women’s Saving Effort the local partner of the project. The shramadana which followed saw over one hundred staff members from HSBC and IUCN taking up their mammoties to remove the sediments that have got accumulated over many years which resulted in the tank to reach its point of neglect.
It is anticipated that the restoration of this tank will benefit about 70 families in the village and will bring an additional 50 acres of paddy into production, with the water from the tank.
Ms Karunawathi Manike played a very important role in the festivities on this day. Her commitment to the project is truly amazing. The meal served during the entire day was none other than the harvest of the land, so to speak: a bountiful harvest. For breakfast, sweet milk rice, plantains and kavum were served and a cup of iramusu (herbal drink) and jaggery served at mid day. Rice, kiri kos (jack fruit curry), curried tank fish, a kakiri (Cucurbitaceae) preparation, green gram curry and of course the traditional papadam, deep fried red chillie and dry fish which were served at lunch delighted its eaters. For dessert yet another traditional fruit of the land, sweet waraka was served. The day ended with aninsightful speech by Mr Upali Mahagedara, an expert on traditional knowledge of the two millennia old hydraulic civilization of the country, ecosystems and food security aspects of small irrigation tanks in Sri Lanka.