Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources and Agriculture in Sri Lanka

December 2nd, 2010

Vulnerability Hot Spots and Options for Adaptation

In his article published on Water Matters, News of IWMI Reserach in Sri Lanka in April 2010, Nishadi Eriyagama describes the recent review by IWMI on the status of climate change reseacrh and activities in Sri Lanka.

This review suggests that Sri Lanka’s mean temperature may increase by about 0.9-40 C, over the baseline (1961-1990), by the year 2100 with accompanying changes in the quantity and spatial distribution of rainfall. These changes may lead to an increase in the Maha (wet) season irrigation water requirement for paddy by 13-23% by 2050 compared to that of 1961-1990 (De Silva et al. 2007).  Future projections on coconut yield suggest that production after 2040 may not be sufficient to cater to local consumption (Peiris et al. 2004), and a reduction in the monthly rainfall by 100 mm could reduce productivity by 30-80 kilograms of ‘made’ tea per hectare (Wijeratne et al. 2007), thus impacting the country’s exports.

This study also attempts to identify the country’s agricultural vulnerability hot spots, as well as identify existing knowledge gaps. It developed a pilot level Climate Change Vulnerability Index consisting of three subindices (Exposure, Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity), which was subsequently mapped at a district level.

It points out that in the face of an uncertain climate, Sri Lanka needs to concentrate on “smart investments” and “no regrets” adaptation interventions that simultaneously deliver climate resilience and address current development needs. Both, rainwater harvesting, and restoration of the ancient tank system of the country, are two such adaptation options against future challenges in the water resources and agriculture sectors.

To read more about the impacts of climate change on water resources in Sri Lanka, click here. The article by Nishadi Eriyagama is also on Delicious.

Further information can be found here.


- De Silva, C. S., Weatherland, E. K., Knox, J. W., Rodriguez-Diaz, J. A. (2007) Predicting the Impacts of Climate Change – a Case Study of Paddy Irrigation Water Requirements in Sri Lanka. Agricultural Water Management 93 (Bookmark on Delicious).

- Peiris, T. S. G., Wijeratne, M., Ranasinghe, C. S., Anandacumaraswamy, A., Fernando, M. T. N., Jayakody, A., Ratnasiri, J. (2004) Impact of Climate Change on Coconut and Tea Industry in Sri Lanka. Paper presented at the 2nd AIACC Regional Workshop for Asia and the Pacific. Manila, Philippines.

- Wijeratne, M., Anandacumaraswamy, A., Amaratunge, M. K. S. L. D., Ratnasiri, J., Basnayake, B. R. S. B., Kalra, N. (2007) Assessment of Impact of Climate Change on Productivity of Tea (carmellia sinensis L.) Plantations in Sri Lanka. Journal of the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka 35(2): 119-126.