In the face of unlikely odds, Sri Lanka has risen to carry the highest Human Development Index value in South Asia. But severe lifestyle disparities between rural and urbanized regions have led USAID to donate $1 million to provide access to clean water in Sri Lanka.
Over recent years, Sri Lanka has wrestled through a 27-year conflict, a devastating tsunami in 2004 and a global recession. Despite these catastrophic events, this country has achieved “middle-income status”. This growth has been steady enough for a striking vision in 2020: ideally, every family will experience healthy lifestyles and conditions on a daily basis.
Overall, access to clean water in Sri Lanka reaches nearly 86% of the population. While this is to be celebrated, the 14% who find themselves without access suffer terribly. Primarily, this consists of isolated rural regions, plantations and the remote east and north of the country. The poor-quality water consumed is believed to be closely related to malnutrition and poor education commonly found in these areas. In communities that are still being resettled, an estimated 40 percent of the residents practice open defecation, which is a major contributing factor to the fierce spread of water-borne diseases in Sri Lanka.
The recent funding will expand on pre-existing projects already started by USAID for providing access to clean water in Sri Lanka’s areas predisposed to droughts and floods. These programs support national and regional policies that minimize the effects of these natural disasters while providing infrastructures such as piped water and rainwater harvesting tanks. The newer technology will be geared specifically to families and hospitals affected chronic kidney diseases, the prevalent water-borne disease rising in the country.
This funding is anticipated to grant access to clean water to 100,000 people. Should this program reach its intended goal, Sri Lanka may just see its 2020 dream become a reality.
– Brenna Yowell