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Sri Lanka Australia Award Program explores sustainable water management

The International WaterCentre (IWC) has hosted 15 water professionals from Sri Lanka for the past month as part of the Australia Awards Fellowship Program on Improving governance and management for inclusive and sustainable development.
Sri Lanka Australia Award Program explores sustainable water management

Australia Award Sri Lankan Fellows in Canberra visiting DFAT

Continuing a fruitful relationship with the Sri Lankan water sector, the International WaterCentre (IWC) has just completed the delivery of a one-month Australian study tour as part of the training program titled ‘Improving irrigation governance and management for inclusive and sustainable development’, targeted at 15 Sri Lankan water and irrigation practitioners representing various government, research and academic institutions, including:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI)
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources Management
  • University of Jaffna
  • University of Peradeniya

Funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its Australian Awards Fellowship (AAF) program, this training activity aimed to develop the participants’ capacity to help drive irrigation sector governance and management by showcasing Australia’s experience in irrigation governance reform, evidence-based decision-making, and on-ground irrigation and agriculture practices. It also aimed to inform pathways for the adoption of management approaches and technologies to increase the efficiency and productivity of irrigation agriculture, improving its competitiveness and resilience towards climate uncertainty.

Participants experienced a combination of lectures and workshops which enabled them to explore the foundations of Integrated Water Management, including systems-thinking and whole-of-catchment approaches to understanding complex water problems, and the importance of stakeholder engagement and gender and social inclusion in decision making. The group also visited North Stradbroke Island, where they had a chance to hear the perspectives from different stakeholder regarding the water-related economic, social and environmental issues of the Island.

Sharing the history of Australian water sector governance and reform was a central component of the program, as well as showcasing the current practices in water policy, water planning and allocation (i.e. water markets). Participants explored these issues by engaging with relevant State and Federal Government organisations, and by travelling to locations within the Murray Darling Basin (Toowoomba, Canberra and Coleambally) and the Burdekin Basin (Ayr). This also offered the opportunity to engage with local stakeholders and their perspectives, and explore on-ground practices in irrigation and farming.

Throughout their time in Australia, participants worked in groups to develop return-to-work plans or ‘Change Projects’ – a process facilitated by IWC for them to translate lessons learnt to their own context and implement initial actions to support innovation in the Sri Lankan water and irrigation sector. Participants selected the Minipe Irrigation Scheme (east of Kandy) as a pilot area to implement four ‘Change Projects’ focusing on (i) stakeholder participation in decision making, (ii) water allocation (iii) water use efficiency and productivity (iv) and data management. These will be implemented during the next 6 month, after which IWC will visit Sri Lanka to finalise the program.

Special thanks to the organisations who shared their time and knowledge with the delegation:

  • Queensland Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME)
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF)
  • Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
  • Australian Water Partnership (AWP)
  • CSIRO Land & Water
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • SunRice
  • NSW Department of Productive Industries
  • Kirkup Farm
  • Leeton Visitors Information Centre
  • Coleambally Irrigation Co-operative Limited (CICL)
  • AgriTech Solutions
  • RMCG
  • Lower Burdekin Water
  • Arc Consulting Group
  • Moreton Bay Research Station
  • Healthy Land & Water

More information

Learn more about the IWC Australia Awards Fellowship grants awarded in 2017/18 here. For more information on the Vietnam Australia Awards Program please contact:

Pablo Orams

Senior Project Officer


T +61 7 3028 7600

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