The World Bank Board has approved a $165 million credit for Sri Lanka to increase access to piped water services and improved sanitation in the Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, Monoregala, Kegalle and Ratnapura Districts.
Around 450,000 people are expected to benefit under the project from improved access to safe piped water, contributing to the Government’s national target of increasing piped water coverage from the current 45 percent to 60 percent by 2020.
The Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project aims to reduce time spent collecting water, freeing it up for more productive uses. It also aims to reduce the susceptibility of vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly, to health risks posed by water-borne and sanitation related diseases. Water-borne diseases have negative impacts on household incomes and are associated with increased healthcare costs, lost time and productivity.
“Access to safe drinking water is critical to health outcomes, especially for vulnerable populations” noted Françoise Clottes, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “The World Bank is happy to further support the sustained achievements in the water sector and to join the Government and other stakeholders in efforts to improve access to and delivery of this vital commodity,” she added.
A strong poverty focus underscores the project. “The project will support infrastructure development in lagging regions and the estate sector where access to water supply and sanitation services is lower and the poverty level is higher compared to the national average”, said Shideh Hadian, Task Team Leader of the project. The project also focuses on addressing the long term sustainability of water supply schemes managed by Community-Based Organizations, by strengthening institutions involved in service delivery in the rural and estate sectors.
The project comes at a time when Sri Lanka also faces the challenge of a new disease, known as CKDu (Chronic Kidney Disease of uncertain etiology). Communities where CKDu incidence is high will also benefit from improved access to safe drinking water.
The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – the credit is on IDA terms with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period.