The Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) last week has approved additional loans totaling $120 million for a project to bring drinking water to urban areas of the Jaffna Peninsula, one of Sri Lanka’s less developed regions.
The initial assistance for the Jaffna and Kilinochchi Water Supply Project was approved in November 2010 with ADB loans totaling $90 million. This first initiative by a development partner was aimed to support Jaffna’s post-conflict development on safe drinking water supply to Jaffna and nearby towns.
The 2010 project has faced various challenges hampering the original plan to bring in water from the Iranamadu Tank (irrigation dam). Bringing water from a new desalination plant, instead, will directly address water scarcity challenges caused by climate change.
“Through the development and management of a desalination plant, the additional finance will complete ADB’s effort to provide piped water for 300,000 people and eliminate the drudgery of fetching water over long distances that women particularly face,” said Jingmin Huang, an ADB Principal Urban Development Specialist.
Jaffna-one of the areas worst affected by years of conflict-faces a growing population. Water sources are limited in the area, with groundwater and local surface water unable to meet the demand for drinking water. The project area is expected to experience temperature rises and variable rainfall due to climate change, leading to higher risk of droughts and declining availability of drinking water.
The plant will have a daily capacity of 24,000 cubic meters and be accompanied by 700 kilometers of water mains and distribution pipes, and 60,000 metered new property connections. The project will also support the operation and maintenance of the plant, which will be operated by a single contractor. Other work under the extra assistance will be supported to increase storage capacity of the Iranamadu Tank, which remains an important water resource for Jaffna in the future. The project will also support long-term water resource management.
Technical assistance of $500,000 will accompany the loans to support capacity development of institutions in Jaffna’s water sector, including managing the contract of the desalination plant, conducting community awareness activities, and producing sanitation safety plans.
The overall project cost is estimated at $266 million, including the $120 million additional financing. The expected completion date is December 2025.