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Sri Lanka gets $150mn ADB loan to divert water to dry zone

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has got a 150 million US loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the first tranche of a credit facility to divert water from its main Mahaweli river to the dry zone to help improve cultivation. 

The money is part of a 453 million dollar multi-tranche financing facility to help Sri Lanka complete its ongoing drive to deliver surplus water from the Mahaweli river basin to its dry zone, where scarce supplies undermine agricultural output and household incomes.

The funds are largely earmarked to build 6.2 km of open canals and associated structures of the Upper Elahera Canal, two new reservoirs, Mahakitula and Mahakirula, and 27 km of open canals linking them with the existing Wemedilla reservoir.

It will also be used to build a 940 m tunnel of the North Western Province Canal and for the Minipe Left bank Canal Rehabilitation Project, an ADB statement said.

“Lack of year-round access to water resources constrains the agricultural and commercial production of the region, suppressing social and economic development,” said Sri Widowati, ADB’s Country Director in Sri Lanka.

The Mahaweli Water Security Investment Program is meant to accelerate economic activities in Sri Lanka’s northern dry zone region by transferring surplus water of the Mahaweli river basin for irrigation, drinking, and commercial purposes.

It will also develop bulk water conveyance and storage infrastructure planned under the North Central Province Canal Program (NCPCP), the bank said.

“This is a high priority development program of the government that will support completion of the Mahaweli Development program which started in 1970.”  (Colombo/September 18 2015)

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