Sri Lanka rural communities bank on safe drinking water

June 14, 2011 (LBO) – In Kathankudy, Baticaloa in Eastern Sri Lanka, Fathima Izana, a mother with a young child, worries about the quality of the water she gets from a tube well. “The water had different colour and it smells sometimes,” she says. Fathima believes the water may be contaminated by a nearby latrine pit.

“That is a biggest problem I have because I have a child,” she says. “Fever and various deceases attack my baby through water. I can’t give him the water.”

She is among the many who are eagerly awaiting pipe borne water supply.

The Eastern Baticaloa district is in a region that was ravaged by war for three decades. The government is now building water supply sanitation projects both in the East and the North.

Sri Lanka provides safe drinking water to 92.5 percent of urban households but only 39.0 percent of rural population.

In some areas people have to walk long distances to get safe drinking water.

Sri Lanka has a rich history in hydrology and has thousands of man-made reservoirs called ‘tanks’ dotting the country from the time the island was ruled by ancient kings.

The island has with 2,400 irrigation canals and some 3,500 deep water tanks and over 4,500 kilometres of rivers. The country also