“The International Conference on Water Security through Rain Water Harvesting” organized by Lanka Rain Water Harvesting Forum in collaboration with Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply, International Water Management Institute (WMI) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was successfully conducted on the 28th and 29th of November 2018, with the support of Brandix pvt Ltd. and S-lon Lanka Pvt ltd.
The Conference was held at the Yellow River auditorium at IWMI and was attended by over hundred participants including the local and international . The Inauguration ceremony and was graced by Hon. (Dr.) M. L. A. M. Hizbullah (Minister of City Planning and Water Supply) as Chief guest, Hon. Dinesh Gunawardena (Minister of Mega polis and Western Development) as guest of honor, Dr Claudia Sadoff (Director General – IWMI), Mr. D.G.M.V.Hapuarachchi (Secretary, Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply), Ms Alena Tansey, (Acting Director, Governance and Vulnerable Populations Office, USAID), Mr Ben Hemingway (Senior Regional Advisor, South Asia, OFDA) and Dr. H. Manthrithilaka (Head Sri Lanka initiative, IWMI)
Representative from many organizations who participated are from Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply, National Water Supply & Drainage Board, University of Jayawardanapura, University of Uva Wellassa, University of Ruhuna, Integrated Women’s Development Organization, HARTI, UNDP, National Science Foundation, Pacific International Lines, Water Forum – IESL, ADRA, Central Environmental Authority, Bidya Municipality – Palestine, PLAN international – Sri Lanka, Habitat for Humanity , New vision Solutions Ltd., Design Revelation Consultants, Coca Cola and director board of Lanka Rain Water Harvesting Forum. International Participants from countries such as India, United Kingdom, Nepal, Bangladesh and USA were also present.
At the inauguration ceremony began with the welcome speech by Eng N,U,K Ranatunga Chairperson of LRWHF. The Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Dr. M. L. A. M. Hizbullah during his address brought to attention that the country has only utilized 40 percent of the water it receives from annual rains and the remaining 60 percent is lost to the sea.
Hon Dinesh Gunawardena Minister for Megapolise and Western Development brought to focus that Sri Lanka has a National Policy in Rain Water Harvesting since 2005 and also long tradition of rain water harvesting. Quoting the King Parakarambahu the Great (1153-1186 AD), “…..let not even a small quantity of water obtained by rain, go to the sea without benefiting man”, he mentioned that our ancestors constructed thousands of water storage tanks to safeguard our water resources against drought and prevent water scarcity.
As the invited speaker Dr H. Manthrithilaka, Head, Sri Lanka Development Initiative IWMI delivered his address tilted “Need of The Day: Rainwater Harvesting” The inauguration ceremony was also addressed by Ms Alena Tansey Acting Director, Governance and Vulnerable Populations Office from USAID.
Key note speaker Dr. Frank Rijsberman (Director General, Global Green Growth Institute, South Korea) spoke about Rainwater Security through Green Growth Development. He stressed on how an economy can grow or rather face growth once the country turns to green growth which was supported by many examples from 24 countries including South Korea.
The technical session of the Conference divided into 5 themes which was held over 1 ½ days. The 5 themes were
- Rainwater Harvesting for Water Supply (domestic/ industrial/ commercial)
- Policy Institutions of Rainwater Harvesting
- Disaster Risk Reduction with Rainwater Harvesting
- Rainwater Quality and Health
- Rainwater Harvesting and Eco Systems
The 24 Papers which were categorized under the above sessions were presented by researcher practitioners and professionals from various institutions from Sri Lanka as well as International were deemed successful in all aspects which was later supported by active discussions between sessions. The knowledge pool consisting of visionaries from around the world, pooling in their views, knowledge and experience was acknowledged and found to be of value by the participants. A need to create a network within the region to share knowledge and experience was also discussed by the participants.
On the afternoon of the 29th November the group visited Millennium Information Technology Campus (MIT) at Malabe as a field visit where much information and knowledge was gained on the seeing an active rainwater harvesting, ground water recharging and grey water treatment system.