Sri Lanka project to expand water to war-torn regions

The Asian Development Bank approved a loan of US$ 60.3 million to Sri Lanka to expand access to safe water and sanitation in three provinces, including areas affected by civil war.

The Asian Development Bank approved a loan of US$ 60.3 million to Sri Lanka to expand access to safe water and sanitation in three provinces, including areas affected by civil war.

The Secondary Towns and Rural Community-Based Water Supply and Sanitation Project will target five towns in the North Central, Eastern and Southern provinces - Batticaloa, Hambantota, Muttur, Matara and Polonnaruwa in addition to rural areas of North Central Province. It is expected to bring clean water to nearly a million extra people and better sanitation to more than 170,000 people, which will improve health by reducing sickness from waterborne disease.

"Some of the major works will take place in areas affected by years of conflict," said Maria Paniagua Pascual, an ADB urban development and planning specialist. "By promoting a climate of cooperation, the project will provide a showcase for how peace can translate into concrete improvements in living quality." Currently, water supply reaches 57% of those in rural districts and piped water is available to only 29% of the population, mostly in urban areas.

The project will focus on poor, unserved areas, build new piped water supply systems and expand existing systems, carry out drainage works, and construct a salinity barrier at Matara to prevent saline intrusion during dry periods. In rural areas, a community-based programme will provide safe water for 322,000 people and latrines for 138,000.

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