World Bank supports plantation sector water supply and sanitation improvements

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

In response to a Government request, the World Bank has agreed to provide $ 14 million for the improvement of water supply and sanitation in the plantation sector on a pilot basis in Nuwara Eliya District. Given the low quality and quantity water supply and sanitation in the estates, this is a critical intervention.

The poor quality of water in the estate sector has increased time spent in collecting water, loss of productive women hours, health risks posed by water borne and sanitation related diseases. The proposed project will support the development of lagging regions especially in the estate sector where access to water supply and sanitation is lower and poverty level is higher when compared to national average informed V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development.

Engaging the stakeholders and partners to develop and implement a sustainable service model for estate water service delivery with piloting in Nuwara Eliya District will be an important objective of this World Bank supported water supply and sanitation project. The project will focus on piped water supplies in estates and adjoining rural areas. Sanitation in the estate area will be provided using water seal latrines with on-site disposal.

Selection of schemes will be based on the water source availability, treatable level, commitment by the estate management and beneficiaries, operation and maintenance arrangements, number of beneficiaries. However, special consideration is to be given for distant housing schemes without sufficient water services, schools, dispensaries, childcare centres and maternal homes, etc.

Over 150 sub-projects will be covered under this project and over 90,000 beneficiaries will be benefitted from this project. Moreover, 12,000 new latrines will be provided to the households to improve their sanitation, said Sivagnanasothy.

Operation and maintenance of the system will be community based and supported by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB), Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Society (EWHCS), Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs) and the community. In the estate sector, the access to safe drinking water is 54% as against the urban sector of 88%. Access to safe sanitation is 52% as against the urban sector of 96%. The project will not only address the safe drinking water supply and sanitation aspects but also pay way to institutionalise a pilot and replicable model for water supply and sanitation system in the plantation sector.

The estate scheme include full treatment to Sri Lanka standards for portable water with 24 hours assured supply. Ministry of National Water Supply and Drainage will be the executing agency with NWS&DB and the plantation component will be implemented by the Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development through PHDT.

Tariff system and metering will be appropriately structured and introduction on a pilot basis to cover operation and maintenance (O&M) cost and replacement cost of pumps after 10 years. The community will be made responsible for O&M.  

It is usually the poorest group which lack access to latrines not because of they do not understand the value of latrines but because they cannot afford the construction cost. Under the project, eligible families in the estate sector will receive a sanitation grant to build hygienic latrines. For the sanitation program, the beneficiaries will be entitled to a sanitation grant of 70% which is equivalent to Rs. 35,000 (about 70% of the proposed latrine cost of Rs. 50,000). The remaining cost of constructing latrine will be contributed by the beneficiaries in kind or cash.

Lack of access to improved water supply and sanitation has multi-sectoral impacts including malnutrition, poor hygienic habits, child mortality etc.  Hence, progress in reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for malnutrition and child mortality is therefore, addressed by improving water supply, sanitation and improve hygienic behavior. The community contributions towards capital cost of estate schemes will be 15% and contributed in cash or in kind.

The Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development has organised a workshop in Hatton on 30 June to discuss the project preparatory arrangements including developing a criteria for selection of schemes as part of the readiness assessment process. This workshop will also discuss the success stories, failures and good practices in the formulation of water supply and sanitation projects.

The workshop will be chaired by Palani Thigambaram, Minister of Plantation Infrastructure Development, and will be attended by the officials of the NWS&DB, PHDT, Ministry of Plantation Industries, World Bank, District Officials, RPCs  Estate Managers and other relevant stakeholders, said Sivagnanasothy.