Introducing Renuka Indrarajah, one of the plenary speakers in the Friday afternoon session ‘Gender Equality for Water & Food Security’ at the 21st SI Convention from 18-21 July in Kuala Lumpur. With over 10 years’ experience in water conservation projects in Malaysia, she and the other plenary speakers for this session will make a ‘water-heavy’ team with SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, who is President of Women for Water Partnership (WfWP), and Dr Rajiv Bhanot, founder & Managing Director of H2GO Global which has revolutionised water purification. SDG6, Clean Water and Sanitation for All, will be high on the agenda. But SDG5, Gender Equality, and SDG2, Zero Hunger, are also narrowly connected to the theme of this interesting session.
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Renuka Indrarajah is a trustee of the SPARK Foundation that is driving the W.A.T.E.R project, a partnership with non-governmental organisations, local government agencies and local communities in Malaysia. W.A.T.E.R stands for Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation.
The corporate affairs and legal director of Heineken Malaysia, Renuka Indrarajah says that since 2008, SPARK has spent RM8.6 million in water conservation projects in Malaysia. SPARK is the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) arm of Heineken Malaysia; it won the 2018 Sustainable Business Award for Special Recognition for Flagship Initiative for W.A.T.E.R.
SPARK focuses on river and water conservation as well as raising public awareness to manage water resources better. Since 2018, the foundation has adopted six rivers and engaged more than 40,000 Malaysians in river and water conservation activities in Peninsular Malaysia.
In East Malaysia, SPARK’s focus is to increase access to potable water among rural communities. It has built five rainwater harvesting systems and one gravity water system. “Our efforts have resulted in the creation of alternative water access for more than 5,000 people in Sabah, generating an estimated 2.8 million litres of potable water annually for six rural villages,” says Renuka. “Since 2012, we have also been conducting environmental conservation and education outreach programmes here.”
SPARK Foundation’s vision is to grow with local communities through water and river conservation programmes, and create learning opportunities for future generations through strategic partnerships.