Adapting to climate change through water management

Adapting to climate change through water management

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Farmers in the dry zone of Sri Lanka experience extreme weather conditions, especially droughts due to effects of climate change. Water collected in the tanks during the short rainy season, is the determinant factor of the type and extent of crop cultivation during the dry season. This is very important especially in paddy cultivation, since it requires ample of water. In this scenario, water management is a vital element in climate change adaptation. In the usual practice, water collected in the tank is released by the “Water Controller (Jala Palaka)” of the respective Farmer Organization to the farmer fields when required. In this exercise, water released without calculating the actual requirement, and considerable amount of water is being wasted.

As steps taken to address this matter, Climate Resilience Integrated Water Management Project conducted two trainings in Kurunegala on water management, in December 2019. Water Controllers, leaders of Famer Organizations and corresponding government officers, in Mamunuwa (Polpithigama) and Anguruwella (Ehetuwewa) cascades were trained on equitable allocation of water. This decides after few calculations, considering factors such as water holding capacity of the tank, extent and types of crops cultivated.

With the leanings of the training, farmers and CSO Officers with the support of respective government officers carried out downstream mapping in January 2020. Maps had been developed for each tank; demarcated with canals and distribution points, and accompanied by a water releasing schedule. These maps are instrumental in downstream development, which will be finalized by joint reviewing with the maps developed by the engineering consultant; with technical support of Provincial Irrigation Department (PID). The finalized maps will be ratified with farmers at the ratification meetings, prior to downstream development.

Farmers in the two cascades are prepared to practice the water releasing shedule form Yala season in 2020, once the downstream developed and canals established. This will allow them to use every drop of water collected to the tank, efficiently and effectively with minimum wastage. This will certainly help to increase the extent of cultivation; result in increased cropping intensity; which leads to increase food security and reduce poverty in the long run.