MANILA, PHILIPPINES (17 January 2003) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a loan of US$60.3 million equivalent to Sri Lanka to expand access to safe water and sanitation in three provinces, including areas affected by civil war.
The Secondary Towns and Rural Community-Based Water Supply and Sanitation Project will target five towns in the North Central, Eastern and Southern provinces - Batticaloa, Hambantota, Muttur, Matara, and Polonnaruwa - as well as rural areas of North Central Province. It will bring clean water to nearly a million extra people and better sanitation to more than 170,000 people. It will improve health by reducing sickness from waterborne disease and lead to a cleaner environment.
"Some of the major works will take place in areas affected by years of conflict," says Maria Paniagua Pascual, an ADB Urban Development and Planning Specialist. "By promoting a climate of cooperation, the project will provide a showcase for how peace can translate into concrete improvements in living quality."
Although Sri Lanka's water supply and sanitation has improved during the last 15 years, there is much to be done and water supply is a priority sector for the Government. Currently, water supply reaches 57% of those in rural districts and piped water is available to only 29% of the population, mostly in urban areas.
The focus of the project will be on poor, unserved areas and it will build new piped water supply systems and expand existing systems, carry out drainage works, and construct a salinity barrier at Matara to prevent saline intrusion during dry periods. In rural areas, the project will carry out a community-based program that will provide safe water for 322,000 people and latrines for 138,000.
Other activities include institutional strengthening of provincial councils, Pradeshiya Sabhas, community-based organizations (CBOs), and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB). They also include campaigns to raise public awareness of the need to improve water management and promote sector changes.
Women and girls will particularly benefit, as the project will ease their traditional burden of carrying heavy water loads. Moreover, the project emphasizes women's participation in CBOs and implementing units to provide them with a greater voice in planning and managing water supply schemes.
The total cost of the project is US$86.4 million, of which US$23 million will come from the Government and US$3.1 million from the communities. ADB's loan, which accounts for 70% of the project cost, comes from its concessional Asian Development Fund, with a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years. Interest is set at 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% per annum subsequently.
The executing agency is NWSDB under the Ministry of Housing and Plantation Infrastructure. The targeted completion date is end-March 2009.
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