ADB, Japan Support Water Upgrade in Northern Sri Lanka

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Government of Japan are to help Sri Lanka step up water and sanitation improvements in poor, post-conflict areas in the north of the country.

A grant of $2 million from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, administered by ADB will support a community project to provide safe, reliable water supplies and sanitation to rural communities in Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts. These areas were badly affected by the 30-year civil conflict which ended in 2009. The new initiative will support a larger, ongoing ADB-assisted loans project to restore water supplies and other infrastructure in the north of the country.

“A key feature of this assistance will be the involvement of communities in the construction, operation and maintenance of facilities, to ensure sustainability of the project, while providing income and livelihood opportunities to the beneficiaries,” said Ron Slangen, Urban Development Specialist.

Along with providing up to 1,900 poor households with safe drinking water, over 5,000 households will get low-cost sanitation systems, and around 200 water operators will get training in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of facilities, as well as financial management. About 1,000 people in target communities will benefit from cash-for-work programs that will build and rehabilitate infrastructure.

Nearly 60% of the northern rural population lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation. In the 1,400 villages on the Jaffna Peninsula, just 13 water supply schemes exist, providing only around one hour of water a day. Chronic illness from drinking contaminated water is a serious concern, with gastrointestinal diseases causing over 8% of deaths in Jaffna District in 2008.

Among the areas earmarked for assistance is the small Tamil community on Delft Island, off the coast from Jaffna City, which will benefit from the construction of new water supply and waste pipes. The project will also carry out a hygiene awareness and water conservation campaign in target villages.

Along with the ADB-administered grant, the Government of Sri Lanka will provide nearly $261,000, with in-kind community contributions of over $157,000, for a total investment cost of over $2.4 million. The Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage is the executing agency for the project which will run for two years with an expected completion date of December 2013.

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