Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Water conservation “desperately” needed in Sri Lanka

IRIN: Rising temperatures, a late monsoon and dwindling rivers in parts of Sri Lanka are straining the energy sector and threatening crop yields. Local experts say water conservation has become an urgent necessity.

In Moneragala District, in the east of the island, a man who gave his name as Somadasa said he has farmed for most of his 50 years and cannot remember when the nearby river was this low during a monsoon season. He usually starts planting when the government releases river water to irrigate his fields, but this year he is still waiting.

“I don’t know when to plant this time, there is no indication when the water will be released,” he told IRIN. With a “southwest” monsoon that arrived almost four weeks later than usual, government officials have been unable to give any estimate of when they will open sluice gates.

He can skip one planting season until the next rains are expected, but what if those rains are also late, he asks. “I have no clue about how to manage water resources. I am used to it being made available to me,” he said.

Farmers have long viewed abundant water as an entitlement rather than a scarce resource, said Kusum Athukorala, who heads the Network of Women Water Professionals Sri Lanka (NetWwater), and Women for Water Partnership, two local NGOs that promote rural water management skills. As a result, people do not feel a need to ration usage, but “The situation here has been critical for some time.”...

A lake at Kotamale, Sri Lanka, shot by Anuradha Ratnaweera, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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