The ecosystem can be safeguarded from degradation only when humans start working towards it. In achieving this objective Caritas Sri Lanka with the collaboration of 13 Diocesan Centers, covering the entire island is in the process of forming 156 environmental groups, under the project titled, “A Stepping Stone to Safeguarding Sri Lanka’s Natural Environment” funded by Misereor. Each Diocese will form 5 Adult, 4 Youth and 3 Children Environmental Groups.

On 22nd of March 2022, the National Centre team (NC) from the Ecological Conservation and Plantation People Unit (ECPP) visited Caritas Valvuthayam in Mannar on a Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) visit.

The team witnessed the newly formed Children Environmental Group at the Thampanaikulam School, which is located on the Madu-Madawachchi main road. A small tree planting campaign was organized by the school on that day while welcoming the team from Colombo. According to the Principal, Mr. Chindathurai, they face many hardships due to the heavy rain and floods during the monsoon, and drought during the dry season.

Thereafter the team visited the Thampanaikulam area to inspect the organic fertilizer producing farmlands.

Next, the team had a discussion with the Madutkarai village level Environment Group where the public faces issues with regard to the drinking water due to the excessive levels of sand mining in the area. They propose to repair two public wells that could provide clean drinking water to the community. Illegal sand mining takes place in these areas causing the salty sea water to penetrate the wells, making water consumption difficult for the people. Mr. Ajanthan, Grama Niladhari, Mr. Gerad, Development officer, Mr. Judeson, the President and Ms. Rajini, the Secretary of the Environment Group participated in the discussion.

Later the team visited Vepankulam area where the people face issues related to illegal sand mining, deforestation, drinking water issues and flooding. The villagers state that they need to build a bund to prevent flooding and require proper training based on organic and seed based farming. The President of the group, Mr, Farook, Mr. R. Naseer, the secretary and Mr. S.H.M Saibudeen, treasurer participated in the discussion.

The team had thereafter visited the Palaperumadu village level Environment Group where people are facing deforestation and drinking water issues. Ms. Linet, Grama Niladhari, Mr. S. Johnson, Samurdhi officer and Mr. Sudharshan, the President of the group participated in the meeting.

The following day, on 23rd of March, the Caritas NC team visited the Caritas Vanni – HUDEC in Kilinochchi. The team visited the Children group formed at the KN/St. Fatima R.C.T.M School. A tree planting campaign was organized by the school in parallel to the visitation.The school is facing severe water issues as the present basic filtration system does not cater to the demand.

Thereafter the Caritas team left to the Udaiyarkattu village to inspect the organic fertilizer producers. The team had a discussion with the Mulliyavalai village level Environment Group where illegal sand mining occurs. They also complained about the elephants and monkeys that is a huge menace for their livelihoods as they destroy their home gardens and crops. The group members asked for an immediate solution. According to them, the situation has aggravated since humans have encroached their habitat.

Thereafter, the team visited the two groups in Uttuppulam village where Caritas HUDEC has formed Elders and a Youth group. The Youth Group explained to the NC team the activities which they plan to carry out.