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Water security and related issues in Sri Lanka: the need for integrated water resource management (IWRM)

Author:

Ananda Gunatilaka

LK
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Abstract

Water is the least regulated natural resource in the world. Water security implies accessibility to cheap and clean water to achieve acceptable standards of food and goods production, sanitation and health, which in turn require cheap energy. Water security should also entail an equitable distribution of water for all stakeholders in the country to prevent social, political and civil unrest. In Sri Lanka, almost 96% of available water from the hydrological cycle is used up in agriculture and food production, contributing just 13% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP, 2007). With the demise of cheap energy water, food and energy security issues become closely interlinked. Domestic and industrial per capita water use has increased with (GDP) growth. With per capita water availability expected to decrease over time, water security should become a key element in national planning in Sri Lanka. This entails the physical protection of all water related infrastructure from potential disruptions and the efficient allocation and utilization of our limited water resources in all sectors of the economy, with a well-executed programme of integrated water resources management (IWRM) backed by quantitative hydrological-modelling. Nations can be characterized by their water footprints and virtual water flows across their borders through the medium of international trade in commodities whose volumes change over time. This is also a mechanism to transfer water from regions of surplus to those of scarcity so that some balance in water security is achieved. With envisaged shortages, due to increasing demand arising from population growth, rising living standards and even predicted climate changes on short time scales, water cannot be considered an inalienable right by its users. In a globalizing market economy, intra- and international virtual water flows require that a fair price be levied on water extraction and use.
How to Cite: Gunatilaka, A., 2008. Water security and related issues in Sri Lanka: the need for integrated water resource management (IWRM). Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, 36, pp.3–15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/jnsfsr.v36i0.8045
Published on 30 Nov 2008.
Peer Reviewed

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