New emphasis on water security in Sri Lanka is paying dividends.

Photo credit: IWMI

Building the bund of a tank in Idaikaddu, Mullaitivu (photo: FAO).

FAO gives new lease of life to villagers in Killinochchi and Mullaitivu

Just three years ago the districts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu in the North Western province of Sri Lanka were in a parlous state. Empty war- ravaged buildings gaped at passers-by in a lonely landscape scattered with headless palm trees. On either side of the rutted road, paddy fields had been abandoned and become choked with scrub. The districts were among those most affected by the country’s prolonged civil war. The coastal town of Mullaitivu was particularly hard hit by the twin onslaughts of the tsunami as well as civil war. Many households are now headed by women, having lost male members during the war.

But today the districts are thriving. Fields of vegetables, pulses and paddy abound, irrigated by the flowing waters of nearby tanks in which cattle and buffaloes wallow.

The transformation is in part due to a massive rehabilitation program that restored tanks and canals and helped build capacity. The Integrated Irrigation & Agricultural Livelihood Development project to the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, introduced by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and supported financially by the European Union (EU) is the cause of this transformation. The project took 35 months to complete at a cost of EUR 3,330,000 (about Rs. 550 million) and helped restore minor tanks and lands to about 170,000 people or 17,200 farming families.

A partnership to progress

FAO partnered with government organizations in the two districts. Ninety field officers were appointed to construct the irrigation infrastructure. Agricultural extension staff were trained in cultivation, water management and maintenance of the irrigation systems.

Read the full article: IWMI


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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