Water, sanitation and health are inextricably linked and lack of these basic facilities impact heavily on rural communities, which depend on agriculture, livestock breeding, and market gardening to earn a living.
As water resources dwindle, the right to water and equitable access to it has become one of the most compelling issues facing rural Sri Lanka. The Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to its people is to supply safe drinking water and adequate sanitation for its entire population by the year 2010.
Building critical water services
The World Bank is supporting Sri Lanka’s Second Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project (CWSSP II) to build critical water and sanitation facilities and strengthen the capability of the central and local governments to deliver and manage sustainable water supply and sanitation services.
The development and management of water resources remains a high priority for Sri Lanka given its strategic importance to rural development and poverty reduction. Aiming to improve the health and well-being of rural villages, the project is designed to empower local communities to plan, implement and manage their own water and sanitation schemes.
10% of households have access to tap water
At present this service is at a critical level. Only about 1 out of every 10 households have water on tap and every fifth person relies on rivers, streams and other unprotected water sources for their drinking water.
About 30 per cent of village and small town population have access to safe water sources.
Sanitation levels are equally poor, with almost thirty per cent of the population in villages and small towns not having access to sanitary latrines.
Traditional water sources no longer safe and in short supply
Growing competition among domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial users has resulted in a shortage of this scarce resource, especially in the dry zones of Sri Lanka. In addition, contamination of water sources and the lack of a regular and reliable water quality testing system have meant that traditional water sources in rural Sri Lanka have become increasingly unsafe. This deterioration in the availability and quality of traditional water sources could be responsible for the country’s declining health standards.