The rain-scarce Dry Zone of Sri Lanka is the agricultural heartland of the country. Over half the people living in this region engage in farming or in employment allied to farming. The Dry Zone has experienced some of the worst extreme rainfall events in recent times- causing both flood and drought, often in quick succession. This has caused grave hardship to these agricultural communities affecting crops, irrigation infrastructure and also impacting on the quality and quantity of drinking water available.
Climate Resilient Integrated Water Management Project (CRIWMP) is a seven-year project (2017-2024) aimed at strengthening the resilience of Smallholder Farmers in Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone to climate variability and extreme events. The project targets poor and vulnerable households in three river basins -the Malwathu, Mi, and Yan (rivers)- which flow through the northern part of the Dry Zone. These river basins are among the most vulnerable to the vagaries of the climate, have a high presence of village irrigation systems and cascade systems on which poor and vulnerable farming populations depend for their livelihoods, and are in areas that significantly lack safe drinking water, which pose a high risk of kidney disease
The project pioneers a holistic approach to enhancing Dry Zone water security and agricultural productivity, and for the first time in a project in Sri Lanka, will include climate smart initiatives designed to combat the effects of extreme weather events on the continuity of irrigation and drinking water supplies.
The project will work on the following three key areas:
a) improve irrigation by introducing climate-resilient agricultural practices
b) improve access to potable water by enhancing community-managed drinking water infrastructure
c) protect farmers and other vulnerable groups from climate-related impacts by strengthening early warning systems and climate advisories
Through accomplishing the above Outputs, the project aims to achieve enhanced levels of food, livelihood and water security of approximately 770,500climate vulnerable communities living in three river basins. It is also expected that another 1,179,800 people will be indirectly benefited from the Project through improved water management, resilient agriculture practices, and provision of climate and weather information.
The total cost of the Project is USD 52.08 Million of which USD 38.08 Mn will be financed through a grant received from Green Climate Fund (GCF). Government of Sri Lanka has committed an additional USD 14 Mn to co-finance the activities identified under the Project. Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment, which is also the implementing partner to the project, will implement the project with technical assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and with the support of Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Development, National Water Supply and Drainage Board, Department of National Community Water Supply and Ministry of Disaster Management.
Where are we now?
- The project has come into an agreement with the International Water Management Institute to develop a model for cascade water resource development and management planning. This is considered an initial step towards restoring of the Cascades — one of the essentials for Dry Zone cultivation from Sri Lanka’s ancient times;
- Endorsing the crucial need for communities to play a leadership role in these activities, three Civil Society Organizations will be signing the grant agreement in the second week of November for building community awareness on climate change adaptation and mobilizing communities for project planning implementation and monitoring.
- Surveys have been completed and the designing is already in progress for three cascades in Anuradhapura and Vavuniya districts. These cascades include 54 village irrigation systems. Further, the project is in the process of deploying survey teams in two other cascades in Vavuniya and Puttalam districts. 40% of these tanks are in the Northern Province, which is now rebuilding from the 30- year conflict, drought, and the 2004 tsunami.
- The Project has identified the water-stressed, vulnerable communities and sources for water supply schemes in the districts of Puttalam and Vavuniya.