Cablegate: Sri Lanka - an Excellent Candidate Model

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 275504

1. Summary: Sri Lanka is an ideal model candidate
on water. The GSL has identified water as a
priority and has the political will and adequate
good governance to see it happen. Because of the
government's intentions to provide safe water to
the entire population by 2010, improve water
management, invite private sector participation and
review water pricing, it is a good time to engage
stakeholders to develop projects. There is
substantial international donor financing, local
expertise and a role for the private sector. Post
would be willing to facilitate creation of
partnerships. End Summary.

Current Situation
2. There is a need for action in this sector: water
supply reaches only 57% of the rural population and
piped water is available to only 29% of the
population. The GSL has identified water as a
priority and has included water in its development
agenda. The Government has adopted a water policy,
which seeks to provide safe water to the entire
population by 2010, improve water management,
invite private sector participation and water
pricing. Supporting legislation is expected to be
presented to Parliament in 2004.

3. Sri Lanka wants to be a leader for the
developing world in providing social
infrastructure, including safe water. The GSL
wishes to promote people-friendly water projects
and also private/public partnerships in the water
sector. A project on a municipal or village scale
is feasible, and could provide a viable model.

Donor Support
4. There is substantial international donor support
for Sri Lanka's water sector. Some of the donor
money pledged in Tokyo Donors' Conference($4.5
billion) will go toward water projects not yet
identified. Current ADB projects include Water
Supply and Sanitation ($75 million) and Water
Resource Management ($28 million). Proposed ADB
projects include $60.3 million for a secondary town
and rural water project to expand access to safe
water and sanitation in three provinces, including
areas affected by the war, and a greater Colombo
waste water treatment project. ADB Technical
Assistance will support water supply sector reforms
with assistance to establish a water regulator in
the public utilities commission.

5. Other donors include the World Bank, which
proposed a loan of $40 million for community water.
Two additional sewerage projects are being planned
with Japanese funding for Kandy and Nuwara Eliya,
cities located in the hill country. To date, post
support for this sector has been through USAID/AEP
in the areas of training, technical assistance and
capacity building for water sector professionals
and planners. Post could facilitate linkages
between the major donor agencies, local experts and
private sector participants.

Existing Mechanisms and Coordination
6. The National Water Supply and Drainage Board,
under the Ministry of Housing and Plantation
Infrastructure, currently is the principal
authority for provision of safe drinking water and
sanitation facilities. The draft National Water
Resources Law contains provisions for equitable
water allocation and pricing, and the establishment
of a National Water Resources Authority (NWRA).
NWRA will guide the implementation of the water
act, coordinate activities of agencies active in
water planning and water use, and will be
responsible for planning of water at the national,
multi-basin and basin-aquifer level. There will
also be an independent regulatory authority to set
tariffs and regulate water delivery quality.

7. The draft policy also considers water a basic
human need and but also recognizes its economic
value. According to the policy, users should
contribute to investments and bear the recurrent
costs of drinking water, and utilizing sewage and
sanitation services. The new modes of delivery of
safe water and primary sanitation facilities will
increasingly rely on public-private partnerships.

8. Comment: The GSL is pursuing economic reform and
peace, while trying to strengthen the social
infrastructure. It is also pursuing a more
activist stance in international organizations,
striving to be a leader in the region. Post
believes it would welcome this opportunity to be a
model. End comment.


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