Drought-hit districts wait anxiously for rain

By Nadia Fazlulhaq and Shelton Hettiarachchi

Residents and farmers across the country are praying for rain, as reservoirs and irrigation systems continue to dry up under withering drought conditions.

Government officials warn that the next paddy harvest could be seriously disrupted if there is no heavy rain very soon.H. P. S. Somasiri, Director General, Department of Irrigation, says the drought could jeopardise the Yala season.

“The Maha season is over and harvesting is under way, but there could be problems with the Yala season,” Mr. Somasiri said. “The water available is not sufficient for the Yala crop. The situation is especially bad in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Ampara districts.”

Farmers also fear they may not be able to depend on water from the Mahaweli irrigation system this coming season. “Our irrigation system will be seriously affected if there’s no rain in the next two weeks. We need heavy rains, not scattered showers. The water levels are very low compared with previous years,” he said.

Anuradhapura district secretary H. M. K. Herath told The Sunday Times that minor irrigation schemes in the district had been especially badly hit by the prevailing drought.

Meanwhile, the Nuwara Eliya district is facing its worst drought in five years, and residents are being warned that there may be drastic water cuts if the area received no rain in the next few days.

There are about 7,500 families living in the Nuwara Eliya town area, and they require about 45,000 litres of water a day.

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