UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy visited UN Habitat programmes in the Nuwera Eliya District aimed at minimizing the health hazards of COVID-19.
Ms. Singer-Hamdy was joined by Nuwera Eliya Government Agent/District Secretary Mr. Pushpakumara, Mayor Chandana Lal Karunarathne, Country Director of KOICA Ms Kang Youn Hwa, Deputy Country Director of KOICA Mr Lee Gunwoo, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager Dr Chanaka Talpahewa at a ceremony to handover a vegetable washing, drying facility and reefer container to the Mahagasthota Agrarian Producers’ Special Co-operative Society.
Excerpts of Ms. Singer-Hamdy’s comments at the ceremony:
“Let me firstly thank our donors, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and of course our UN Agency working on this project UN Habitat. As always, the UN works hand in hand to complement the efforts of the Government, therefore I would also like to thank the GA and Mayor of Nuwara Eliya for your partnership. This is a long-standing partnership between our three entities, with UN-Habitat working in the Central and Uva Provinces since 2016, and many of these projects being funded by KOICA.
COVID-19 has impacted the lives of everyone; however, it has had the worst impact on the poorest and most vulnerable in the world. Globally, those being excluded from COVID-19 recovery efforts tend to be workers in the informal sector, those with precarious employment, or undocumented migrant workers.
The promise of the UN’s post-COVID-19 rebuilding efforts is to leave no one behind; because no one is safe, until everyone is safe. Our recovery efforts strive to tackle the virus and build more inclusive economies and societies, based on the principles of equality in human rights.
Therefore, our work to assist vulnerable estate and rural communities here in Nuwara Eliya will focus on health security and economic recovery through agriculture and food security. The opening of this facility here today is one step in that direction. I thank you all once again for your partnership and look forward to working with you to build a more resilient and inclusive Sri Lanka as we work towards recovering from COVID-19.”
Ms. Singer-Hamdy also visited a housing project funded by the Indian Government and facilitated through UN Habitat. The programme is a longer-term initiative to provide housing units in the Central and Uva Provinces for estate communities together with the Government of Sri Lanka.
During her visit she highlighted the UN’s contribution towards the sustainable resettlement of plantation worker families and the important of the housing schemes.
“Firstly, shelter is a fundamental human right. This is not a gift and it is not a privilege; everyone has the right to a safe home no matter their level of income. This is the promise of sustainable development that we are all working towards. Owning a home can drastically improve the quality of life, ensure safety and security of vulnerable groups, children, women, girls, and elderly, especially during these times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secondly, this is a home-grown and community-led initiative. The Estate Workers’ Housing Cooperative Societies are bringing individuals together to build homes, using a home-grown solution developed by local architect Minette De Silva. These efforts are also expanding the skills of the community in areas such as construction and home gardening.
Finally, homes with a lock, a light and secure shelter can prevent and minimize the risk of violence against women and girls. “