Education – General

This page reflects general information on the history and current status of water resource development in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka


Effective, Efficient, Equitable and Sustainable Management of Water Resources in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Key Words

lift irrigation cascading pond systems minor tanks

Green Revolution holistic best management stakeholders

water governance Miocene aquifers cascading pond systems

backbone organization


Often dubbed as the ‘oil’ of the 21st century, fresh water (less than 3% of global water!), is fast becoming a scarce resource as well as a bone of contention both within and between countries.  This invaluable resource is the more critical in that there are substitutes for oil, but none for water!

In the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, efficient water use had been practiced since ancient times [See articles on the history of water Governance in the North and East, and in Sri Lanka in general, under the Education tab]. There is mention of early rulers ensuring proper water utilization in promoting and sustaining lift irrigation, with aid of efficient cascading pond systems. 

Ironically, it was the so-called Green Revolution of the 1970’s [sometimes referred to as Revulsion] that has, besides yielding its desired benefits, triggered wasteful and careless use of fresh water and the excessive application of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and weedicides, such that water scarcity, groundwater pollution, and increasing saltwater seepage are becoming endemic problems and challenges, particularly in the Northern Province. Furthermore, the fresh water bearing Miocene aquifers, the main source of clean water, are increasingly being infiltrated by leachates like e-coli and other forms of pathogens from poorly constructed septic tanks, and also effluents like untreated oil waste from major industrial and vehicle repair facilities.  Hasty, Unplanned construction of buildings, roads, tube wells and concrete walls, with scant attention to the surface drainage patterns and the depth of the water table, and possible sinkholes due to over-exploration of groundwater, add to the dilemma of clean water provision.  A major crisis looms on the horizon.

The Water Resources Leaders Forum [WRLF] is formally being launched on January 01, 2022 as a non-profit entity by a group of like-minded persons comprising resource people specialized in water, agriculture and environmental management, academics, technical persons and lay stakeholders domiciled both in Sri Lanka and across the globe, with a passion for the socio-economic, technological and cultural betterment, initially, of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.  Subsequently, more detailed district-wise data needs to be added for the Eastern Province as well.

This interactive platform will facilitate coordinated approaches towards meeting the fresh water needs of the residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial, institutional, and recreational sectors, initially in the Northern Province, then extending to the Eastern Province as well, as the platform expands. 

The structure of this forum web page comprises the following tabs with individual drop-down menus.

  • WRLF Organization and Governance
  • World Vision Sri Lanka [our Backbone Organization]
  • Open Discussion Forum
  • Project Planning and Design
  • Education and background Material
  • Data Sharing [ Depository for databases, initially pertaining to minor irrigation Tanks]

Our Approach

As opposed to a top-down approach, we at WRLF will endeavour to address the needs as well as environmental and socio-economic challenges confronting local communities, therefore, at a grassroots level.  At this point, we have data for the Jaffna District provided by the Department of Agrarian Development. We will need to obtain similar data from this department for the other four districts as well.

We have also uploaded preliminary data on minor irrigation Tanks in the entire Northern Province. The forum would strive to enable and facilitate the development and integration of individual minor irrigation tanks, or a cluster of tanks that lie within a GN division, based on the following criteria:

  • Tank Restoration or Expansion
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Groundwater Replenishment
  • Flood mitigation
  • Water Conservation

We adopt a holistic approach to the above challenges, meaning, we are cognizant of all socio-economic, environmental and political aspects of society that are impacted by the availability or non-availability of fresh water to the local populace.

It is envisaged that this platform will assist and facilitate members by

  • Providing access to relevant planning information that will enable identification of needs, prioritization, scoping, and development of projects in an integrated manner.
  • Providing educational resources and guidelines on best management practices [BMP], project design, construction, and implementation, and lastly, continuous operation and maintenance.
  • Facilitating discussion, communication, and data sharing among project developers, funding organizations, stakeholders like farmers, elders and local organizations, government entities, and educational institutions, thereby coordinating desired outcomes, in alignment with the stated objectives of the WRLF. [see list of potential respondents in the section under Project Proposals]

Rajan Navaratnam

Education and Planning