International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
Catchment: An Answer to the Water Scarcity of the Next Millennium."
Petrolina, Brazil - July 1999
Section 1: Strategy for Rainwater Utilization in the Next Millennium
Sri Lanka: Problems and prospects of rainwater
catchment for the 21st Century
Rajindra de Silva Ariyabandu
Irrigation Water Management and Agrarian Relations Division
Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute
P.O. Box 1522
Colombo, Sri Lanka
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though Sri Lanka receives an annual average rainfall of
1,400 mm, 70% of the rural population is without clean drinking water. With a
projected deficit for growing future water demand due to population growth as
well as industrial and agricultural use, Sri Lanka's intention of providing
clean drinking water for all by the year 2010 appears to be bleak.
Rainwater harvesting as a rural water supply option is a
recently introduced technology in rural Sri Lanka. It has been accepted and
adapted by many households where other water supply option failed due to
technical or financial reasons. The Rainwater Harvesting programme was
implemented on a 80% grant and 20% equity. The equity contribution was mainly
in terms of labour and house guttering and down pipes. The latter components
could be as high as 30% depending on the roof area.
The high cost of a unit compelled the programme to be
subsidy driven. This approach, though financially appealing, threatens its own
sustainability. Besides this problem, the "project approach" adopted by
implementers, limited the programme to a construction phase. While mastering
the technological component, awareness and management of the systems were left
to the beneficiaries. This resulted in poor maintenance of systems leading to
contamination and inadequate water. As a consequence, average water security
was only up to 43% even by those owning rainwater harvesting systems. Less than
10% of the households used rainwater for drinking, indicating a dislike or
mistrust for the quality of rainwater.
In the next millennium the major efforts will be on
promoting rainwater harvesting on a "need base system" with an open market
orientation. The focus will be on awareness creation on maintaining quality of
water, managing the system as a complete water supply unit and cost reduction
of rainwater harvesting units.
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