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Results Briefs June 23, 2020

Sri Lanka| Building a Healthy Nation

Sri Lanka has made great strides in water supply and sanitation sector achieving the Millennium Development Goals by increasing access to improved drinking water and sanitation to 95 and 96 percent of the population respectively. The next challenge for Sri Lanka is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals with the provision of treated piped water and extension of safely managed sanitation at the household levels. Ensuring sustainability means that there needs to be sufficient money to operate the system and do maintenance of the infrastructure and equipment as soon as something goes wrong.  The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced the need to have safe drinking water, good clean sanitation facilities, and for people to practice good hygiene behaviors at all times.   


WaSSIP is the third project financed by the World Bank since 1998 to provide drinking water and sanitation. The project finances new water supply systems, rehabilitation of existing water supply systems, toilets for households and schools, and septage treatment plants. To ensure sustainability, local Community Based Organizations are trained to operate and maintain the system. Each household agrees to pay a tariff that ensures that operation, maintenance and replacement costs can be covered. A database was developed that shows all the rural water supply systems in the country. This database will be used by the Department of National Community Water Supply to monitor all the Community Based Organizations in the country and provide them with the support that they need. The project invests in the government institutions like the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, the Department of National Community Water Supply and the Plantation Human Development Trust to ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure into the future. A Sector Investment Plan was developed to be the road map for all future investments in water supply and sanitation to achieve Sustainable Development Goals for the country.

15,205 rural households benefitted

Under the Sri Lanka Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project

As of April 2021 the project has:

  • Completed 39 new rural water supply schemes benefiting 15,205 households (and 27 under construction)
  • Completed 11 plantation water supply schemes connecting 3489 households (and another three were under construction)
  • Completed 227 system rehabilitations 
  • Completed 18,356individual toilets (and 7,908under construction)
  • 30 schools are provided with improved sanitation facilities, including menstrual hygiene facilities as necessary 
  • 627 hygiene awareness programs conducted so far with participation of 106,863 beneficiaries, 57% being female in rural areas and with 18,714 participants and 69% being female in estate areas

Bank Group Contribution

The total project cost of $ 183.9 million is financed by an IDA credit of $ 165 million, together with local community contributions of $ 13.9 million and a Government of Sri Lanka contribution of $ 5 million. 


Project brings together the following partners:

  • Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Development

  • National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) 

  • Department of National Community Water Supply (DNCWS) 

  • Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT)

Moving Forward 

WaSSIP is the only project extending treated piped water to rural and estate areas of the country. The project has demonstrated that communities are able to operate and maintain their own systems, with technical support from DNCWS and NWSDB. The project has helped strengthen NWSDB and extend its piped water coverage in urban areas, and PHDT for estate areas. The project demonstrates a successful model of service delivery that can be continued to reach universal access to water supply and sanitation for the country. 



Menaka, Active Member of the Deyyanwela Community Based Organization, Kegalle District

Menaka is one in a family of five. The family suffered a long time without access to clean water. The basic washing and cleaning needs of her family meant an arduous 500-meter walk away from her home to collect water. She says that on certain days, she doesn’t get to have her morning bath. However, with the development of the water plant, Menaka and her family now have access to clean water at home. 

Thushara Pradeep Kumara, Chairman, Bellanoya Community Based Organization, Moneragala District 

In the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community-Based Organization that monitored the operational activities of the water plant has also taken necessary action to provide water to households. This was initiated at the request of the District Secretariat for these areas in an effort to minimize the gathering of people. Not only has it helped immensely to flatten the potential curve but has also instilled good sanitary practices amongst the community. 

R.A.Thilakawathi, Midwife, Medical Officers of Health Office, Soranatota Division, Moneragala District

Water was brought on bowsers to The Medical Officers of Health Office in Soranathota in Moneragala district, where water is an absolute necessity. On days when the bowsers were taken elsewhere, the staff would go to nearby houses in search of water to carry out their medical tasks. Due to the lack of water, they have been compelled to cancel surgeries or postpone them. With COVID-19 situation water had to be made available to essential health service organizations. The staff calls the water supply “a blessing” that has eased their burdens.