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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 2: Rainwater Catchment in Humid and Arid Regions

Paper 2.9

Multiple Sourcing and Water Security

Rajindra de S. Ariyabandu
Irrigation Water Management and Agrarian Relations/ HARTI
Sri Lanka


Having plentiful water does not necessarily mean that water needs are satisfied. In a tropical country like Sri Lanka, where the annual average rainfall is approximately 2400mm, wide spatial and temporal variations deny adequate water distribution to approximately 40% of the people living in the rural areas. Sri Lanka receives a typical bimodal pattern of rainfall with two distinct peaks in April and November. The Northwestern arid zone with less than 800mm of rainfall coupled with saline ground water compounds the problem of water availability for household use. In contrast, the Central wet zone receives more than 5000mm of rainfall, but geographical location of most settlements hinders access to household water in required quantities at times of need. Hence, settlers in both these areas have to look for other alternatives to satisfy their household water requirement. Use of multiple sources of water is one option often practiced by most rural people to satisfy their water requirement. However, uses of multiple sources of water incur considerable opportunity cost of time. Introduction of institutionalized rainwater harvesting has been the latest addition to the list of multiple sources used by the rural poor in Sri Lanka.

This paper attempts to highlight the practices of using multiple sources of water to satisfy household water security in two communities in the Northwestern and Southeastern arid zone and Central highlands. Use of multiple sources of water in the former case is mainly due to scarcity of good quality water, while in the later case hilly terrain and settlement locations deny access to adequate water at household level.

PDF of full document (5pp, 28kb)

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