Climate change having major impact on Sri Lanka

In the last decade, as a result of climate change, Sri Lanka has been experiencing severe shifts in its seasonal rainfall patterns, accompanied by increased floods and droughts, an international environmental consultant said.

David Annandale said that the situation is acute because many farming communities who depend on agriculture for their food and income live in rural areas, such as the dry zone.

As a consultant with the Independent Evaluation Unit of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), David Annandale is involved with a formal evaluation of GCF’s environmental and social safeguards procedure.

As part of their work, they undertake country visits, to assess how safeguards are being implemented in GCF-funded projects.

“Recently I visited Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone where one such project is being carried out by the Government of Sri Lanka with the support of UNDP. The GCF implements its projects through what are known as “Accredited Entities,” and UNDP is globally accredited. This seven-year project (2017-2024) involves rehabilitating 325 reservoirs, of an ancient water distribution structure known as the cascade system. The selected 16 cascades consist of hundreds of small reservoirs known as “tanks”, all connected by irrigation channels,” he said.

David Annandale said that on his field trip in Sri Lanka, along with a few UNDP staff members, they visited a number of sites, and spoke with villagers, contractors, and Civil Society Organization (CSO) representatives.

“It turns out that although it is still in the early stages, the project has some exciting results. The beneficiaries clearly want this project, which is a good start. The project has also been implemented in an interesting fashion. UNDP has contracted four CSOs to undertake community consultation and mobilization work. The interaction of partners at different levels of the Government is impressive, as is the carefully constructed community involvement work, and the involvement of beneficiaries in project design,” he said.

David Annandale said that the end result of the project would be that more farmers in Sri Lanka’s Dry Zone will be more resilient to the adverse effects of climate change.

David Annandale is a freelance international environmental consultant, living in Edinburgh. He is a consultant for World Bank, Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, UNDP, UNIDO, UN Environment, GCF, and GEF.

He works on environmental and social safeguard systems for multi-lateral agencies and developing countries, and also undertakes project environmental impact assessment jobs.