Sustainable model for Farmers’ Organizations to repair and maintain irrigation dams in Sri Lanka

Posted on 11 September 2014


In the dry Southwest region of Sri Lanka, Maneragala distict, catchment of rainwater can provide secure access to fresh water and highly improve living conditions. Irrigation dams are an important and traditional means in this dry region to capture the rainfall in the 2 main rainfall seasons.  Nevertheless the maintenance and repair of these dams by the farmers’ organizations (FO’s) is not always adequate.

This project  introduces a new sustainable model that can support farmers to improve their water situation with their own means.

The project focuses on realizing a sustainable financial model for the farmers to improve, maintain and operate existing irrigation dams. This will be paired with a strong focus on the strengthening of the social infrastructure of the farmers’ organizations.

The local partner in this project, Arthacharya, already active in poverty relief and micro finance in this area, is limited in its success through lack of access to reliable water sources. Rehabilitation of existing, sometimes age-old, dams can secure water availability and has a very short pay-back period through higher income due to better and more crops. Nevertheless financing these dams has proven to be problematic. The project gives FOs access to new financial and organizational tools to realize dam rehabilitation projects. The project approach slowly shifts from grants to credit.

The new financial tools will be developed in a public-private partnership between Rabobank Foundation, the Dutch water boards, Artacharya, Arthavida, AKVO and Waterhelp.

This project was made possible by the Sustainable Water Fund (FDW)


This project aims to develop a participatory approach were farmers’ organizations are stimulated to take control of their own situation by giving them access to new financial and organizational tools to realize water dam rehabilitation projects.


  • access to sustainable resources (water), rehabilitation of dams;
  • increase in the living standards  of poor farmers;
  • increase in the efficiency of land use;
  • higher  resiliency to climate change;
  • increase in the  social agility of farmers by stimulating social participation.

Project location

Project partners

  • Akvo Foundation
  • Dutch Water Authorities | Unie van Waterschappen
  • Rabobank Nederland
  • Stichting Waterhelp