Sri Lanka, World Bank Sign Project to Improve Management of Watersheds and Water Resources

Colombo: The Government of Sri Lanka and the World Bank signed today a $69.53 million credit agreement to improve dams and irrigation schemes covering 165,000 hectares of agricultural land and improve the management of watersheds and water resources, benefitting 356,000 farming families.

Mr. Sajith Attygalle, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance signed on behalf of the Government and Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka, signed on behalf of the World Bank.

“Effective management of water resources is critical to Sri Lanka’s long-term economic prosperity,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka is blessed with both natural and manmade water resources and protecting its watersheds will help the country adapt to climate change and reduce climate-induced risks on people and their livelihoods.”

The project aims to preserve, restore and better manage watersheds — with a focus on the Upper Mahaweli Watershed in the central hills — to help prevent impacts of extreme floods, drought and landside events, while at the same time contributing to improved water quality and farmer yields. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Irrigation.

The project combines evidenced-based planning with investments in watershed management, dam safety inspection practices and dam risk assessments. The rehabilitation of irrigation systems will benefit from extensive stakeholder consultation and key project interventions will promote the participation of youth and women to ensure they are supported by the project.

“The Government of Sri Lanka is committed to the conservation of our watersheds and plan to formulate a broad policy framework under the theme “Strategic Mechanisms for Developing a Common Watershed Management Approach in Sri Lanka” said Hon. Chamal Rajapaksa, Minister of Irrigation. “The Ministry of Irrigation is happy to associate with the World Bank in developing our valuable water resources and watershed through this five-year project”

The World Bank support of $69.53 million credit is from its International Development Association, with project preparation activities supported by the Korea-World Bank Group Partnership Facility.

There are 19 projects in the World Bank portfolio in Sri Lanka amounting to $2.3 billion in a variety of sectors including transport, urban, water, education and health.

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