Minor tank rehabilitation

Guidance note on employment intensive tank rehabilitation

This publication is an important result of the ILO's Climate Resilience project implemented in the Northern Province, with the view of building drought resilience of small holder agriculture communities. The guidance note explains the technical process of selecting minor irrigation systems for rehabilitation, how to adopt employment intensive mechanisms in tank rehabilitation and other key features pertaining.

Community based minor irrigation systems have proven an effective tool for water harvesting. In Sri Lanka, small-holder farmers have successfully utilized the system to capture seasonal rainfall to cultivate paddy and other crops in the dry zone. Water harvesting is often based on minor tanks, which are constructed by damming a natural stream, or a depression used to collect rainwater.

Ensuring year round access to water helps reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers and secure higher incomes. In recent years, the need for water harvesting systems has become even more critical with the effects of climate change. However, lack of maintenance and breaches arising from floods has meant that many of the smaller tanks are in a state of disrepair and require significant investments for rehabilitation.

Earlier tank rehabilitation programmes have often not been sustainable due to the lack of local community involvement. Beyond the engineering mechanics of tank rehabilitation, it is so important to identify ways for local engagement. The development of this basic technical guide on minor tank rehabilitation working with local farmers’ organizations and with technical backstopping from the Department of Agrarian Development makes for an important contribution to address this key issue.