ADB Supports Water and Sanitation Improvements in Sri Lanka

News Release | 2 December 2008

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Key urban centers in Sri Lanka's Northern and Northwestern Provinces are utilizing Asian Development Bank (ADB) funds to upgrade neglected and overstretched water and sanitation systems.

ADB is providing a 32-year loan of $59.78 million and a grant of $23.22 million from the Asian Development Fund for the Dry Zone Urban Water and Sanitation Project which will rehabilitate and expand water and sanitation services in the towns of Chilaw, Mannar, Puttalam, and Vavuniya.

The Netherlands Trust Fund for the Water Financing Partnership Facility will provide a $2 million grant in cofinancing and the Government of Sri Lanka will extend the equivalent of $28.33 million for a total project cost of $113.33 million.

Water resources are scarce in the northern dry zone area. The situation is aggravated by multiple uncoordinated water uses and users, ageing infrastructure, and development- and conflict-related pressures.

Piped water coverage is low, ranging from 10% of the population in Vavuniya to about 70% of the population in Puttalam. During the dry season, most households spend up to 50 minutes each day to fetch water. With little access to piped water, many people are forced to gather supplies from other sources, which are often polluted or of poor quality.

Sanitation systems are typically rudimentary, with wastewater often seeping into groundwater.

"By improving access to safe water and sanitation, the project will improve the lives of thousands and help decrease poverty levels as it will reduce medical expenditure and lower the number of work days lost from sickness. It will also help reduce the time women and children currently spend collecting water, providing increased scope for more productive activities," said Tatiana Gallego-Lizon, Urban Development Specialist with ADB's South Asia Department.

The project will provide water supply to households for approximately 200,000 residents in these four towns and improve sanitation for around 100,000 people within the target areas by the time the project is completed in 2013.

The project will also help improve service delivery by decentralizing activities to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board regional offices. It will also seek to improve the capacity for planning and management of water resources, as well as to strengthen the capacity of local authorities to provide adequate services.

The project will also provide opportunities for members of the target communities to participate in the decision-making process and management of resources.

"The project constitutes an opportunity to support the reconciliation process by bringing communities together to assist in the rehabilitation and development of areas that have been affected by decades of conflict," said Ms. Gallego-Lizon.