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Raising Development Impact through Evaluation

Sri Lanka Water Supply and Sanitation

Evaluation Document | 27 June 2016

This report evaluates the performance of three technical assistance (TA) grants to Sri Lanka for water supply and sanitation, approved by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) over 2002–2009:

  • TA 4049: Strengthening the Regulatory Framework for Water Supply and Sanitation;
  • TA 7078: Institutional Strengthening for Decentralized Service Delivery in the Water Sector; and
  • TA 7320: Supporting Capacity Development for Wastewater Management Services in Colombo.

The TA projects supported the development of capacity in the government’s main water supply and sanitation agencies, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, and Colombo Municipal Council to improve water supply and sanitation services through institutional and regulatory policy reforms in Sri Lanka. Overall TA 4049 and 7078 are rated less than successful. TA 7320 is rated successful.

Key issues included the susceptibility of policy and legislation development to political change and changes in government, lack of adequate consultation with stakeholders, which affected the success of the decentralization of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board  TA in relation to the need for and advantages of decentralization; and problems faced in staffing the project management unit of the Colombo wastewater TA, requiring seconding of staff from Colombo Municipal Council on a part-time basis.

One of the lessons from the projects include the relevance of TA to support long-term policy change in the water sector and the difficulty of achieving rapid development in a changing political environment in Sri Lanka. The projects confirm the conclusions of earlier evaluations that significant policy reform in the water sector can be difficult and protracted. Follow-up or TA clusters targeting specific policy reforms can be valuable in this situation, to assist in cementing or extending support to achieve desired reforms. Although follow-up TA projects were implemented, they were not specifically designed to extend support to a particular policy reform issue or linked to outcomes of previous TA projects.