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World Bank supports climate resilience in Sri Lanka

The Climate Resilience Multi-Phased Prog­ramme Phase I Project is expected to benefit around 11.2 million people across the country, by modernizing the weather, flood, and landslide forecasting and early warning systems, according to a statement issued on the signing of the agreement on 20 September.

The Government of Sri Lanka and the World Bank have signed a US$ 92 million financing agreement, to support weather forecasting, warning, and flood resilience in the Kelani river basin.

Ranking as the fourth-longest river in the country, the Kelani extends 145 km from the Sri Pada mountain range to the capital Colombo. The river is a major source of water for Colombo’s residential and industrial population. It also provides livelihood opportunities such as farming and transport services to people living near the basin, who are also vulnerable to flood risk.

The project will support the government departments to forecast weather-related hazards better, improve early warning systems, and invest in flood-resilient infrastructure. It will also lay the foundation for reducing flood risks in the Kelani river basin in the long term. The project will also support safe and reliable drinking water supply for Colombo by improving the salinity barrier at Ambathale, and long-term climate resilience in the Kelani river basin through studies and detailed investment proposals for multipurpose flood resilience infrastructure in the next project phases.

Sri Lanka is among the countries most affected by extreme weather events, and is expected to see a 1.2 per cent annual GDP loss by 2050 as a result of climate change. It is estimated that about 19 million Sri Lankans may live in areas that could become moderate or severe hotspots in terms of floods or droughts by 2050. The project builds on the successful collaboration between the Government and World Bank in flood-risk mitigation and long-term resilience to climate risks, which began in 2010 with the Dam Safety and Water Resources Planning project, followed by the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project in 2012 and through the Climate Resilience Improvement Project in 2014.

The Ministry of Irrigation and the State Ministry of National Security and Disaster Management will implement the project while the Department of Meteorology, the Irrigation Department, the Res­earch Organization, and the Dis­aster Management Centre will collaborate to better prepare for extreme weather, floods, and landslides and to protect people and property.