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HNB partners LFSUS and Women’s Bank

HNB signed a loan agreement with the Sri Lanka Women’s Development Services Cooperative Society (Women’s Bank) Ltd to assist in the upgrading of housing improvements, housing infrastructure and community infrastructure of the Kuruniyawatta community of Kolonnawa.

The Kuruniyawatta Project is an onsite upgrading project supported by the UN-HABITAT’S Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF).


DGM - Corporate Banking of HNB R. Thenabadu presents the Rs. 11,000,000 cheque to the President of Women’s Bank - K.V. Rupa Manel. Risk and Compliance of HNB Dilshan Rodrigo, Chairman of LFSUS and DGM of HNB Chandula Abeywickrema and Secretary of Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dr. P. Ramanujam, Project Finance Advisor of UN-HABITAT Angela Mwai looks on.

The project is designed to assist governments to lead and coordinate technical cooperation and seed capital initiatives to develop bankable projects that promote affordable housing for low- income households.

SUF is being piloted in four countries in Asia and Africa with Sri Lanka being one of these four countries. Initiating the second SUF project in Sri Lanka, the project finance advisor for SUF Angela Mwai said, “In developing countries urban slums have been a developing problem.

If we think about the urban slums around the world, they are mainly located in central parts of the major cities. Therefore, for the urban development upgrading urban slums becomes crucial.

The economic factor becomes a barrier in upgrading slums around the world. However, LFSUS was established in order to facilitate the financial issue with the participation of public and private stakeholders”. The central objective of SUF is to assist developing countries to attract domestic capital for their slum upgrading and related infrastructure activities.

Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Dr. P. Ramanujam expressed his gratitude to HNB for the willingness to grant loans to this project jointly with UN-HABITAT, LFSUS and Sri Lanka Women’s Development Services Cooperative Society (WOMEN’S BANK) and also he wished to thank, Deputy General Manager of HNB and Chairman of LFSUS Chandula P. Abeywickrema who has been the “ Leading Light “ in the HNB Banking Sector for inaugurating this venture to serve the community of our country.

The main purpose of this project is to help the people specially in urban rural areas to open up a new perspective in their lives, by way of providing opportunities to develop their business, jobs and also to assist in obtaining housing loans etc. We need institutes like these in Sri Lanka which can contribute to and stimulate its national growth in the country,” he said.

The Kuruniyawatta project is in the outskirts of the Shell-Gas Road off Kolonnawa main junction within Kolonnawa MC. The total population of the entire settlement is 235 and their livelihood options comprise working as Municipal Council labourers, three-wheeler drivers, and other small scale, low-income business men.

It is a multi-ethnic community inclusive of Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamils, Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims, Malays and other ethnic minorities. The proposed development of the Kuruniyawatta settlement will take place on site as the same land will be utilized for the development process. Since most of the infrastructure is available within the settlement, the project will upgrade the existing houses within the limited area space.

The project has been under the scope of the project partner Women’s Bank as one of its sustainable development program. Women’s Bank is the leading community banking system in Sri Lanka which is owned and managed by women coming from very poor urban and rural communities. It pioneered the group based saving and credit movement in Sri Lanka, starting in 1989. Women’s Bank is a Cooperative Society.

It is a self-reliant membership organization built, owned and operated exclusively by the poor women in Sri Lanka. It is engaged in a mission to put the resources, ideas and support of its own members to raise their socio-economic and cultural status on the principle of self-help and mutual help without depending on government and external support.

The Engineering Company has identified three main improvements to be done in order to alleviate the living conditions of the dwellers and the settlements. One of the issues in the settlements is that most of the inhabitants’ existing housing conditions are poor and inadequate.

There is unhealthy sanitation coupled with insufficient infrastructure for the whole settlement. The existing settlement covers the basic infrastructure but the standards and the quality of these needs to be improved. The hygienic conditions of the settlement are not up to satisfaction.

Therefore, the flood risk and the infrastructure have also been identified as significant measures to upgrade the settlement.

The 11 M loan given by HNB will be utilized through LFSUS for its second housing loan project for the low income settlers. Each beneficiary will receive an incremental loan to be paid within a three year period. This will mark a change in their lives as they will be able to gain a better living environment out of affordable housing loans.

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