Protect the Central Highland the water source of the nation
World soil day is commemorated on March 22 all over the world. The Rehabilitation of Degraded Agricultural Land Project (RDALP) celebrated the water day together with its partner institutions and organisationsatRanasingharama temple in Pambadeniya, in the Kandy district.
The Sustainable Development Goale - 6 of the UN targets water for all by 2030 and this year water day theme, ‘Leaving no one behind’ is focused to achieve this goal.
According to the UN around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer from water scarcity. It has estimated that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water stressed conditions. Marginalized groups such as women, children, displaced people, and indigenouspeople suffer the most by water scaresity.
Although Sri Lanka has sufficient water resources a large number of people have faced scaresity of safe water for drinking and household use. This situation is intensifying with climate change, population growth and pollution of water sources and rivers.
Sri Lanka has 103 main rivers and most of them are started from the central highlands. Therefore the central highlands can be considered as the water source of the nation. Protection of the land and water resources in the central highlands is crucial to provide safe water for all and leaving no one behind. Considering this RDALP selected “Protect the central highland the water source of the nation” as the theme of the water day program.
The chief guest of the event was the D.M.N.G.G.T. Karunarathna, District Sectary – Kandy. Addressing the gathering Karunarathne stressed the importance of protecting the lands of the central highlands. “Central highland of the country is very important in all economic, environment and social aspects. As the theme of the today program stated it is the water source of the nation because most of the water flows, rivers are started here. Since the land of the central highlands are under the stress of degradation with population growth and development we have to take actions to sustainably manage them” he said.
Keynote speech was delivered by RohanaKeerthiDissanayake, former additional secretary to the president. He said that large number people in Sri Lanka are suffering from acute water scaresity. They have faced socio and economic issues as a result and have to walk long way to fetch water and mainly women and children have to suffer for this, he said.
“Whole central highland is a water source because most of the country’s rivers are started from the central and 90% of its land are belonged to a river basin. Pambadeniya area where we now held this program is in the Mahaweli river basin. All the development works, construction of houses, roads, factories and farming activities are taking place in this environmentally highly sensitive lands. Therefore we have to take actions to prevent soil erosion in these lands and otherwise we will have to face a disaster. Already we are experiencing the adverse consequences of unsustainable land management and use. Most of the large reservoirs providing hydropower and irrigation water have filled with sediments. Therefore all development activities in the central highlands should be done in a sustainable manner with the understanding of environmental importance of this lands.
RDALP is working with number of government institutions and organisations as the stakeholders in the project implementation. Officers of the stakeholder organisations, District Secretariat – Kandy, Natural Resource Management Centre of the Department of Agriculture, Land Use Policy Planning Department, Department of Agrarian Development, Water Supply and Drainage Board, actively contributed to organize the program.