LIRNEasia was invited to a meeting by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Mahaveli Development to discuss dam safety, based on the concept paper we developed last year in collaboration with a large number of partners.
Work is underway to develop a project for World Bank funding that includes dam safety and the upgrading of hydrological and metereological information systems connected to the Sri Lanka’s water resources. The World Bank task managers present emphasized that the project development as well as its implementation must be done in adherence to the principles of consultation, participation, ownership of the project by all parties, and transparency.
LIRNEasia was the only non-governmental entity at the meeting that had 30-40 attendees. In my comments, I expressed our appreciation of the invitation and offered to share our expertise in the handling of public consultation projects and community involvement in last-mile disaster warning. I also emphasized the need to resist the temptation to avoid the tough issues of cost recovery from all users and independent regulation in order to get the project through. I said that the opposition to water pricing was a Colombo phenomenon, and that we had engaged with farmers and even those who had agitated against pricing in the past in Polonnaruwa.
Except for an unnecessarily defensive response from the Director General of Irrigation, who said that I should not harp on the impending failure of dams because only two dams had failed in the last 50 years, my comments were very well received.
The meeting organizers stated that they had learned of our work from the website and that they looked forward to continuing collaboration.
More details on the project planning here.