As the novel coronavirus keeps us socially distanced, the need for building strong virtual relationships has become quite vital. Having understood that, the South Asian Rainwater Harvesting Network (SARNET), initiated by Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum (LRWHF) supported by USAID and IRCSA, recently conducted their first webinar on the 30th of September 2020 to keep its members virtually connected, despite the ongoing global pandemic.
The unequal distribution of freshwater is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, especially in the South Asian region, as its water culture is determined by the monsoon and the ability to harness rainwater to tide over the dry periods. This situation has been further amplified by the impacts of COVID-19, which is why it’s quite essential for us to adopt a sustainable and smart water conservation method like rainwater harvesting to meet our future requirements and enhance water security.
The speakers of this webinar were Dr Tanuja Ariyananda, CEO of Lanka Rainwater Harvesting Forum, Mr Rajindra Ariyabandu, Chairman of the Lankan Rainwater Harvesting Forum, Mrs Vishvi Vidanapathirana, Regional Coordinator of SARNET and Mr Han Heijen, the President of the International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance (IRHA), who was also the moderator of the webinar. There were about 15 attendees, including the members of the network and IRHA.
This webinar is only the first part of a monthly webinar series that SARNET-LRWHF is planning to conduct. The main purpose of conducting this webinar was to get acquainted with the members of the network, while updating them about its current events, objectives and future activities.
Mr Rajindra Ariyabandu warmly welcomed the participants to the webinar, and Dr Tanuja Ariyananda provided a brief introduction about how SARNET came to be. “SARNET was formed as we recognised the need of the regional cooperation for sharing of knowledge and best practices, during the regional conferences held in 2006 and 2009,” said Dr Tanuja Ariyananda. “It aims to strengthen the position of rainwater Harvesting in the South Asian region,” she further explained.
Mrs Vishvi Vidanapathirana updated the participants about the current events of SARNET. “Right now, we are highly focused on getting our website developed as well as a logo. We have also created social media channels to spread the news about our network to strengthen our social media presence,” she mentioned.
Mr Han Heijen did a descriptive demonstration of the objectives of the regional centre. “One of the main objectives is to create an effective knowledge and experience fabric that brings interested parties, including governing bodies, NGOs, communities and private sector entities together with expert rainwater harvesting capacities. It will also keep regular contact with mass media to sustain public interest in rainwater management applications at domestic and community level,” he stated. “At the same time, it plans to prioritise the demonstration and advocacy, through government and donor agencies, while producing occasional fact sheets or other evidence-based documentation,” he further clarified.
In this time of the global pandemic, SARNET plans on conducting and maintaining its functions in a digital-focused manner, through their social media channels and the website to be developed.
SARNET currently has about 30 members, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka, and working on broadening their network even further as the time progresses.