Ecological restoration of Kapiriggama cascade system

School children involved in the restoration of Massallawa tank catchment area

Project title: Ecological restoration of Kapiriggama cascade system of tanks in Rambewa Divisional Secretariat in Anuradhapura

Location: Kapiriggama, Anuradhapura, North Western Province of Sri Lanka

Duration: 20132015

Project Background: Since ancient times Sri Lanka has used ‘climate adaptation measures’ effectively. One example is the man-made tanks created to capture northeast monsoon rains for dry and intermediate areas, prevent local floods and increase ground water recharge. Evidence-based data illustrate that small tank cascade systems or ‘Ellangawa’ are a time tested and successful traditional system of collecting and utilising rain water for multiple uses including agriculture. In these systems the water can be recycled more than 4 times.  

Many such systems have now been abandoned or not being used properly.  Ecological restoration of these systems can help to meet modern day climate challenges such as flash floods and prolonged droughts. The Kapiriggama cascade system of tanks in Rambewa Divisional Secretary Division in Anuradhapura is one such system selected for restoration by this project. This project is being implemented by IUCN with a number of government and non-government partners.

Once completed the project is expected to serve as a demonstration site for a range of best practices that can influence policy formulation on investments and modalities of such restorations. It is also expected to be a model that highlights the use ancient knowledge in current climate adaptation contexts.

Objectives of the project: The project will restore the cascade system of tanks in Kapiriggama and establish a participatory mechanism for cascade tank development and management with the local communities of Kapiriggama, Peenagama and Konakumbukwewa Grama Niladhari Divisions and other government institutions. The aim is to enable communities to better cope with climate change impacts and longer dry spells.


  • Enhanced surface water storage capacity, efficient water conveyance, rainwater harvesting as well as enhanced groundwater recharge and proper drainage
  • Cascade tank ecosystem restored to secure biodiversity, enhance food provision, prevent siltation for efficient water management and improved water quality, enhancing water availability throughout the year, and enabling mitigation and adaptation during flood and drought situations
  • Soil health and water quality monitored and recommendations are provided for better nutrient management to safeguard soil and water quality
  • Enhanced provision of healthy food and nutrition through promoting sustainable agriculture and home garden improvement, traditional rice farming, crop diversification and fisheries and livestock development
  • Livelihood opportunities created
  • Community empowered to maintain the tank cascade system and thereby become more self-sufficient
  • Information collection and analysis are enhanced, improving databases, advancement of learning, sharing and management in tank cascade systems
  • Traditional knowledge base associated with cascade tank systems collected and documented
  • Inputs for policy formulation, planning and implementation are provided to guide similar future initiatives

Donor: HSBC Water Programme

Partners: Divisional Secretariat; Provincial Department of Agriculture; Irrigation Department; Forest Department; Department of Animal Production and Health; and Rajarata University

Read more ...


Go to top