Host of the IWA Water Development Congress & Exhibition 2019
The Island country in South Asia has a long history. Sri Lanka has more than 3,000 years of documented history and at least 125,000 years evidence of pre-historic human settlements. The country’s geographic location and deep harbours made it of strategic importance for trade throughout the history – form the Silk Road to the late 1940s, being under British colonial rules until 1972 as Ceylon.
Sri Lanka is a republic and a unitary state with the official name of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo. It is a diverse and multicultural country with many religions, ethnic groups, and languages.
After nearly 30 years of civil war, Sri Lanka entered the second decade of the 21st century with a strong and consistent and rapid development. The country is undergoing a phase of reconstruction, which is generating high rates of growth. In its recent history, the country has demonstrated strong economic development, and is now classed as a lower middle income country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Along with the Maldives, Sri Lanka is one of the two countries in South Asia that are currently rated among high human development on the Human Development Index with a GDP per capita of USD 3,870 as per the data of 2016. The country has made substantial progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With support from important neighbouring countries such as China and India and from multilateral donors, Sri Lanka is forging ahead with the reconstruction and expansion of the country’s infrastructure. It is also fostering the reintegration of displaced persons and refugees, and implementing political and social reforms.
Sri Lanka has a long history of international engagement. The country is a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and a Member State of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the G77, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
From 1st to 5th of December 2019, Sri Lanka will host the IWA Water and Development Congress & Exhibition.
Nature in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a tropical island. Its rivers and streams originate in the central highlands and drain a total of 103 separate natural river basins. From there they descend to the plains and empty into the sea. The rivers are typically unnavigable in their higher reaches, where they flow swiftly and turbulently through highly eroded passages to the plains below.
Sri Lanka has no natural lakes. Dams on many of the rivers have created large reservoirs. In addition, a series of small reservoirs called tanks are located in the north central plains, storing water during the dry season. Some of the tanks were constructed more than 2,000 years ago.
The country can be categorized into a dry and a wet zone. The central mountains and the south-western part of the country are called the wet zone with rainfall of annual average of 2500 millimeters. Most of the south-east, east and north of Sri Lanka is the so called dry zone which has an average rainfall of 1200-1900 millimeter per year.
In the central and southern parts of Sri Lanka has mountains with a rich bio diversity. It makes Sri Lanka a flora and fauna paradise. The country is home to over 90 mammal species which includes elephants, leopards, bears, and monkey. There are more than hundreds of butterfly species, over 80 kinds of snakes, among them cobras and vipers, and about 435 bird species. The national parks of Sri Lanka are managed by the department of Wildlife and Conservation.
Water sector in Sri Lanka
Water lies at the very heart of most developmental processes, and Sri Lanka, despite possessing rich water resources, is still confronting important threats. The country faces threats by climate change-induced events becoming more recurrent and emerging environment related health issues.
Sri Lanka has performed well with regard to the millennium development goals and is focusing clearly on achieving the SDGs with respect to the provision of safe water and improved sanitation. However, challenges remain requiring financial, social and organisational development policies that fit the country’s new political and economic context. The water sector lies at the crossroads of the human, political and economic development.
In Sri Lanka, there are just over one hundred distinct river basins, over three hundred manmade major and about 12 000 minor irrigation reservoirs, many requiring cross-district cooperation. According to the Ministry of Finance and Planning (2013), the reservoir network can only store 35 % of the available water, while releasing the rest to the ocean. From the remainder, nearly 80 % is used for agriculture. Hydropower is a major source of the country’s energy supply, with more than half of its potential already been harnessed.
The greater Colombo area is working on its wastewater and sewerage systems to ensure that the quality of the water bodies in the region and consequently the life of its inhabitants improves.
The safe pipe based water coverage is 45% within the country and total safe water coverage is 85% following the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) and other community based organisations. In the dry zone of Sri Lanka, most people use ground water for drinking purpose.
Freshwater resources in Sri Lanka are a free public good under the state’s governance. The government is the driving force behind the sector’s development. With some 40 state agencies across various line ministries involved in the administration of the water sector, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) is the main national organisation for safe drinking water supply and sewerage facility.