Introduction to the challenges
Kebithigollewa, Yakawewa, is a rural village situated 23 miles south-east of Vavuniya in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. In 2014, changing weather patterns created a drought which severely affected people in this region. After meeting with representatives from the village and the relevant authorities, the following problems were identified:
1. An insufficient reserve of water for the farming of paddy during the Maha Season
2. The inability of farmers to farm year round, owing to a lack of rainfall during the Yala season
3. A lack of a clean, reliable, and convenient water source resulting in the prevalence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
4. Inadequate facilities for schools in the village and increasing absenteeism.
In order to address the above problems the below solutions were implemented.
The tank before and after restoration (P2)
Restoring the agriculture based economy
The Kudu Nelugoda Tank was in a dilapidated state after being neglected for several decades. And with the increasing uncertainty of rain in the area, it was needed more than ever by the village farmers.
The scope of the civil work carried out included the construction of the tank bund, increasing its height by 2 ft. As well as the rehabilitation of the spillway, sluice gates, feeder channel and distribution canals. The tank was handed over to the 'Govi Sanvidanaya’, a farmer’s collective, to oversee its maintenance.
The redevelopment of the tank ensured that these farmers had a sufficient source of water to plant paddy during the Maha Season. Which was essential for their sustenance. However, to maintain their autonomy, farmers needed to be able to farm year round, including during the Yala season.
The agro-well under construction (P3)
Providing a-year-round water source for farming
The area of Yakawewa receives minimum rainfall during the Yala season. During this time the surrounding reservoirs become depleted, causing farmers to abandon their fields and look for other sources of income.
To address this issue, an agro-well was constructed to provide these farmers with adequate water to plant alternative crops during the Yala season. The well was constructed with a diesel pump, and enabled 15 farmers to cultivate a total area of 5 acres
The clean water solution provided to the villages (P4)
Ensuring access to clean water
Kebithigollawa, Yakawewa, was reported to be one of the areas with a high prevalence of Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD), according to the Anuradhapura Survey Department and the Sri Lankan Census and Statistics Department.
It was identified that the rate of CKD amongst villagers who obtained their water from shallow well water sources was 7.7%. Whereas the illness was prevalent among only 1.5% of those able to obtain drinking water from natural springs.
It was therefore decided that, in order to reduce CKD amongst the villagers, they should have access to a deep water well source. A deep well was bored and the water pumped 500m to a water tower, equipped with a Reverse Osmosis (RO) purification system. The system was designed to supply 5,000L of clean, readily accessible drinking water to the approximately 125 families in the village. The location in which to drill for a deep water source was identified following a Hydrogeological and Geophysical Investigation report carried out by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) in the area.
The convenient access to clean drinking water also reduced the level of absenteeism amongst the village girls, as they no longer had to travel long distances to get water for their families.
Drip irrigation system setup for educational purposes (P5)
Educating on sustainable farming practices
In addition to providing the village schools with books and other educational necessities, a drip irrigation system was also set up in Hamillawatiya College. The purpose of this was to educate the next generation in newer, more water efficient methods of farming. Which would enable them to thrive in the region despite changes in the weather cycle. As the name suggests, the drip irrigation system works by supplying drops of water as and only when needed by the crops, significantly minimizing the use of water.
The team that carried out the project (P6)
In executing this project there were many challenges the project team had to overcome to ensure a better livelihood for the people of Kebithigollawa, Yakawewa. These challenges are typical for a project of this nature, and can serve as a source of learning for all corporations looking to assist such villages in the future. You can have a look at these challenges and the ways in which they were overcome here.