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World Bank Helps Sri Lanka Increase Access To Water And Sanitation

Press Release No:2003/320/SAR
In Colombo: Chulie De Silva
. (94-75) 561-323
In Washington:
  Zita Lichtenberg
(1-202) 483-8503


WASHINGTON, May 6, 2003—Access to safe drinking water and sanitation will be improved in around 940 villages in Sri Lanka with a US$39.8 million grant approved by the World Bank today.  The grant is being provided to support the Government of Sri Lanka’s commitment to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation to its entire population by the year 2010, and will cover areas in the North, East, Northwest and Central provinces over the next six years. 

It directly supports the Government’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation  Program and will follow a “bottom-up” approach in which communities design, finance, implement and maintain their own sub-projects.  It will also help the Government move ahead with transferring responsibility for allocating financial resources, providing technical support and monitoring and coordinating provincial programs in this sector, to the local government. 

“Nobody has a better idea of a community’s needs and the best way to meet them, than the community members themselves,” said Toshiaki Keicho, a World Bank senior urban environment specialist and task leader for the project.  “Empowering local government to better assist them will complete the picture.  The Government has shown strong commitment in both areas and we are glad to be able to support a goal which will improve the quality of life of the country’s poorest people.”

The Second Community Water Supply and Sanitation Project builds on the positive results of an earlier project supported by the Bank between 1992 and 1998, which benefited people in over 2500 villages in the Badulla, Ratnapura and Matara districts.  The community-based approach in this sector was piloted by the first project and subsequently adopted and expanded to six new districts with the support of Asian Development Bank funding.  The total cost of the second project is US$ 62.4 million, of which the Government and communities will contribute about US$ 22 million.

Only around 40 percent of people in villages and small towns in Sri Lanka have private access to safe water sources, and around 30 percent have access to a sanitary latrine, according to the 2001 Demographic and Health Survey undertaken by the Department of Census and Statistics.  This data does not cover the North and East, but anecdotal evidence suggests the situation is even worse in these regions, which were affected by 20 years of civil conflict.

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