Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Mullaithivu

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Mullaithivu

Clean water and sanitation are necessities for life.

Despite this, an estimated 844 million people around the world still do not have a source of safe water near their homes and a further 2.3 billion people do not have access to a toilet.

Unsafe water and poor sanitation are some of the largest barriers to eradicating extreme poverty.

International Needs UKs work is focused in Mullaithivu, a district in the Northern region of Sri Lanka. Mullaithivu experienced high levels of conflict during the Sri Lankan Civil War which lasted over 25 years. The impacts of the conflict are still deeply felt in Mullaithivu district.

Many of the communities in this region are made up of internally displaced people and were created through government resettlement plans following the Sri Lankan Civil War. These communities struggle with a lack of basic infrastructure and resources and there is little ongoing support from the government. Poor access to safe drinking water is a significant problem. Families, particularly the women and girls, sacrifice significant amounts of time collecting water, and sacrifice their health when relying on unsafe sources of water. Many of the sources of drinking water are contaminated and this impacts the health of families.

Now, the villages have new piped taps from new water sources, created to bring water even closer to the homes around the villages making water collection easier.

Villages needing support

In Nesan Kudiyirruppu 16 families living in temporary sheds had to spend nearly 30 minutes to fetch water for cooking and other home needs.  In another nearby village; Thimbili, 65 families spent up to 3 hours every day collecting enough water for drinking and other needs. A round trip could take an hour and frequently they had to make several trips a day.  For a small family, this would be once in the morning and again in the afternoon.  For a larger family, it would need 3 or 4 trips each day.


Safe water for families in Mullaithivu

In 2017 we worked with International Needs Sri Lanka and International Needs Australia to bring nearby access to clean water to 81 families across two villages in Mullaithivu.

Through the programme we:

  • We bored two new wells- one in each village.
  • In Nesan Kudiyirruppu the water from the new well is now pumped into a water tank storage and filtration system which ensures the water is reliable and uncontaminated
  • 9 new piped tap stands from the new water sources were created to bring water even closer to the homes around the villages to make water collection easier.
  • In Thimbili, the water was closer to the surface and clean so the new well now provides safe water and the old well which provided muddy water is now used for irrigation.
  • A Water committee were created in each village and trained in maintaining and monitoring wells, filters, tanks and taps to ensure the villages always have safe water.

New water sources like this well have provided 65 families with nearby access to safe water!

In 2018, one of our trustees was able to visit, here’s what he thought:

“The difference the wells had made to their lives was clear both from talking to them and seeing it for ourselves. One woman told us she had previously had no common well in her area. She had tried to dig one but the water was dirty, too deep and it was unprotected so kept collapsing. The new wells were protected and deep enough to provide clean, fresh, water. We know because we drank it ourselves!”

With the new nearby water supplies, families can collect as much water as needed as well as saving huge amounts of time. This enables them to get more things done at home such as raising poultry, home gardening for vegetables. As well as providing food directly for their families they are also able to sell the surplus.

This project was completed in August 2022

Sri Lanka


Key facts


Whilst access to safe water and sanitation in Sri Lanka is generally very high, many rural communities still lack these basic resources.

In the communities, we are supporting:

  •  65 families spent up to 3 hours a day collecting water
  • Many had to walk up to 4km to reach a source of safe water
  • Most water sources closer to families homes were contaminated and the water they provided was muddy and diseases including diarrhoea and dysentery were not uncommon.
  • Many water sources were shallow and unreliable in hot weather, making collecting water even more difficult.




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project updates

February 06th 2019

Project launched