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Published on Sunday, 14 April 2013 12:25

YuriGagarin 630px 13 04 14April 12, 2013 marked the 52nd year since Yuri Gagarin became the first human to go to Space.

Last Updated on 18 April 2013
Published on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:40

Sleep 630px 13 04 09We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.

Last Updated on 09 April 2013
Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:38

SucharithaG 630px 13 04 03The loss of Sri Lanka's leading literary authority Sucharitha Gamlath was grieved by intellectuals as an insurmountable void in art and culture as well as political philosophy.

Last Updated on 03 April 2013
Published on Sunday, 24 March 2013 11:41

TailedJay 630px 12 11 10(Mirror) - In our mind, the term ‘Butterfly’ creates a picture of a multicolored angelic insects that flutter among flowers feeding on nectar.

Last Updated on 24 March 2013
Published on Saturday, 09 March 2013 15:33

DungBeetle 600px 13 03 13(Mirror) - As their name suggests, Dung beetles live on dung, which they form into balls and roll into tunnels.

Last Updated on 16 March 2013
Published on Thursday, 14 February 2013 14:32

IRON 630px 13 02 14(Mirror) - Water resources in northern Sri Lanka, which are coming under increasing pressure as returning farmers use wasteful water pumps to irrigate their crops, need to be better managed, say experts.

“Never before have water resources in the Northern Province been under such stress,” Thushyanthy Mikunthan, a senior lecturer at the Department of Agriculture at Jaffna University, told IRIN, citing increased farming and an upsurge in water pump usage.

According to the UN, more than 400,000 people have returned to their homes in the area since the 26-year war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ended on 18 May 2009.

A new online mapping tool developed by the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) indicates a “high risk” in overall water resources in the area, which over the past year has witnessed a 10-month drought and three bouts of flooding.

“Variability is especially problematic in places where there is not sufficient storage capacity to provide water during dry times,” Robert Kimball, WRI outreach associate for the Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas mapping project, explained.

“It is a very unique area where water sources differ from one location to another,” said Herath Manthrithilake, head of the Sri Lanka Development Initiative at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

In the northwest, the primary water supply is through small lakes and ponds; in the northeast, through water tanks; while in northern Jaffna Peninsula - devoid of any rivers - residents depend on the limited groundwater resources.

“Each area requires a different approach. The lakes, the tanks and the irrigation networks that connect them need major rehabilitation and constant upkeep, while Jaffna would need very serious water management measures,” Manthrithilake said.

Usage outstrips recharge

Research by Jaffna University’s Mikunthan in Jaffna Peninsula in 2008 (published in 2012), showed usage levels almost 20 percent higher than recharge levels from rain.

If Jaffna is to avoid a water shortage in the coming years, water usage should ideally be 50 percent less than the recharge, she said.

According to the 2012 study there is a clear trend of unsustainable water withdrawal, with total annual withdrawal from the study area (0.66 million cubic metres - MCM), exceeding the total average annual recharge (0.57 MCM).

“From the preliminary work that I have done in the rest of the Northern Province, the signs are that the entire province is over-using water,” Mikunthan said.

Water pumps

The proliferation of water pumps since the end of the war is contributing to this situation, say experts.

In 1983, when the conflict began, at least 50 percent of farmers in the province used deep wells and watered their crops manually, said Ravi Vinanithambi, an environment officer with the Emergency Northern Recovery Project under the Ministry of Economic Development.

“Now everyone uses pumps. Our studies show that in some instances as much 70 percent of the water drawn by pumps is wasted,” Vinanithambi said.

Thousands of water pumps have been distributed across the north by the government and aid agencies since late 2009 with the aim of kick-starting livelihoods.

According to the Northern Provincial Council, agriculture accounts for over 25 percent of the provincial economy, while in 2012 the Central Bank reported that Northern Province recorded a growth rate of 27.1 percent and increased its contribution to the national economy from 3.4 percent in 2010 to 3.7 percent in 2012 due to increased agriculture activities.

Meanwhile, IWMI’s Manthrithilake is calling for available water resources to be better managed, noting the province received at least 75 percent of its traditional annual rainfall of 900mm every year.

“What we are lacking is a concerted effort to put water management at the top of the priorities,” he said, adding that projects like tank rehabilitation, irrigation systems, and agricultural development need to go hand in hand with water conservation.

“Right now, there is no awareness building that rain patterns are changing and that we need to take note,” Mikunthan said. We keep extracting water or using the irrigation systems as if water was in abundance. It’s not.”


Last Updated on 14 February 2013
Published on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 05:37

Surrogate 630px 13 02 05(Mirror) - Lower costs have made the country a top destination for childless couples looking for surrogate mothers.

Last Updated on 05 February 2013
Published on Friday, 01 February 2013 13:16

Curry 630px 13 02 01(Mirror) - It turns out we’ve been eating the spiced dish for a lot longer than anyone ever imagined.

Last Updated on 01 February 2013
Published on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 20:29

IniAvan 630px 13 01 13The value of life: The unresolved problem

Economists have worked hard to give a value to life. They have created a new branch of economics called ‘social economics’ – a way to look at economic issues by using apparatuses available in sociology – to examine the issue.

Last Updated on 15 January 2013
Published on Sunday, 13 January 2013 20:38

Housemaid 630px 13 01 13(Mirror) - Much is written on Rizana Nafeek's extremely unfortunate fate in Saudi Arabia (SA). Some written with anger let loose on the government and some on licensed agencies and every one else who could be dragged in.

Last Updated on 13 January 2013
Published on Sunday, 13 January 2013 07:29

Floods 630px 13 01 13(Mirror) - Recent extreme weather in Sri Lanka is likely to intensify the vulnerability of the poorest living in the country’s hardest hit northern and eastern regions, experts warn.

Last Updated on 13 January 2013

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