Sri Lanka

USAID/OTI Sri Lanka Hot Topics Jun 2005 - USAID/OTI brings communities together to improve access to water

News and Press Release
Originally published
Deniyaya is one of the most ethnically diverse and one of the poorest areas in Matara District in the south. Severe floods and landslides in May 2003 exacerbated the poverty, damaging roads, bridges and water-supply systems. For many of the 1,500 families in the Kotopola and Kolonna District Secretariat Divisions of Matara, close to Deniyaya, the damage caused to the water-supply system by the floods necessitated a two-to-three-kilometer walk to access drinking water, which then had to be transported home.

USAID/OTI recognized the opportunity to foster greater understanding between the Sinhala and Tamil communities, while also meeting a crucial community need for safe water. In partnership with a local nongovernmental organization, the Sewalanka Foundation, the Office of Transition Initiatives agreed to support reconstruction of a gravity water system. Altogether, five storage tanks were constructed and seven kilometers of piping were laid.

As a result of this project, all families in the area now have access to plentiful clean water. Before the project, there was little interaction between the Sinhala and Tamil communities; but during implementation of the project, both communities came together to reconstruct the system and further extend water delivery to reach Tamil households. More than 100 volunteers worked on the project from both communities. Nine months after completion of the project, both groups continue to effectively co-manage the system and have raised more than $2,000 in water revenue. This money is enough to cover maintenance of the system and also has been used to contribute to other local priorities.

For further information, please contact:

In Washington, D.C.: Rachel Wax, Asia and Near East Program Manager, 202-712-1243,