Close to 100,000 people living in the coastal areas of Ampara district will receive piped water for the first time thanks to a massive water supply project being implemented by the Red Cross Red Crescent.
Through the project, more than 200 kilometres of pipeline will be laid across Addalaichenai, Akkaraipattu, Ninthavur, Oluvil and Pottuvil towns, connecting households to mains water supply networks.
"The Red Cross Red Crescent aims to reduce risks to communities in whatever form it takes. The fact that communities will receive potable water will mean that they are less susceptible to various water-borne diseases," says Fidel Pena, water and sanitation coordinator with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
For generations, communities living in these towns have had to rely on private community wells, or limited water supply networks within the town area for their needs. Many wells in the district become polluted during the annual monsoon and, in the dry season, the water table drops and water quality becomes brackish. After the tsunami, many household wells were unusable for months owing to high salinity levels or physical damage.
This is the largest of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement's post-tsunami water projects, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2010. The pipelines will supplement the existing small scale water networks in the area and will connect to existing water towers.
Construction work has already commenced on the 70km long pipeline network in Akkaraipattu, which is being funded and implemented by the Sri Lanka Red Cross and German Red Cross, who are also running a hygiene awareness campaign.
The IFRC will also begin a similar project in the other areas once construction begins on the remaining pipelines and water distribution network. It will also construct the 1,000 cubic metre water storage tower that has the capacity to provide water to the entire Pottuvil town.