US$ 92M to reduce Kelani River flood risks
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the World Bank (WB) signed a US$ 92 million financing agreement for the Climate Resilience Multi-Phased Programme Phase I Project on Monday (20), the WB said. This project is expected to benefit around 11.2 million people across the country by modernising the weather, flood, and landslide forecasting and early warning systems. The project will support Government departments to better forecast weatherrelated hazards, improve early warning systems, and invest in flood resilient infrastructure.
It will also lay the foundation for reducing flood risks in the Kelani River basin in the long run. Kelani River is a major source of water for Colombo’s residential and industrial population. It also provides livelihood opportunities such as farming and transport services to people living near the basin, who are also vulnerable to flood risk. The project will also support safe and reliable drinking water supply for Colombo by improving the salinity barrier at Ambatale, and long-term climate resilience in the Kelani River basin through studies and detailed investment proposals for multi-purpose flood resilience infrastructure in the next project phases.
Finance Ministry Secretary Sajith Attygalle signed on behalf of the GoSL and WB Sri Lanka Country Director Faris Hadad-Zervos on behalf of the WB. Sri Lanka is among countries most affected by extreme weather events and is expected to see a 1.2 per cent annual GDP loss by 2050 due to climate change, the WB said. It is estimated that close to 19 million Sri Lankans may live in areas that could become moderate or severe hotspots in terms of floods or droughts by 2050. “This project is all about protecting people’s lives, property and public assets,” said Hadad-Zervos.
“Investments to modernise existing systems with state-of-the-art technology and to international standards will help the GoSL realise its vision of a disasterresilient Sri Lanka.” The project builds on the successful collaboration between the GoSL and WB in flood-risk mitigation and long-term resilience to climate risks, which began in 2010 with the Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning project followed by the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project in 2012 and through the Climate Resilience Improvement Project in 2014.
The project builds on years of experience, technical studies, and close consultation with stakeholders – relevant Government departments, project affected people and civil society groups. Meteorology Department, Irrigation Department, National Building Research Organisation and the Disaster Management Centre will collaborate to reach out to people with reliable warnings to better prepare for extreme weather, floods and landslides to protect people and property. The Irrigation Ministry and the National Security and Disaster Management State Ministry will implement the project.