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Environmental Safeguards in development projects

case study on roads, buildings and water supply



Two main projects have been considered for the study; the World Bank-funded Provincial Roads Improvement Project and Asian Development Bank-supported Buildings and Water Supply Project.


Considering roads sector, roads development in Sri Lanka is a key agenda in the national development process leading to fulfilling needs of infrastructure establishment. Improvements of existing roads are prioritised instead of new roads construction in rural and urban areas. Roads development in Sri Lanka being administrated in different scales; nationally by Roads Development Authority (11700 km of national highways), Provincially by Provincial Roads Development Authorities (15500 km of provincial roads) and Locally by Local Authorities (65000 km of local authority roads) and 24000 km of roads owned or controlled by other authorities.


Sri Lanka’s road network is dense and well laid-out, providing connectivity to the country’s population as well as the network density is among the highest in South Asia. While roads development, financial mechanism has been functioned in phases of improvement and operational.


Roads improvement as a development activity, there is a need for considering environmental aspects to prevent or minimise any possible impacts.


In water supply; the National Water Supply and Drainage Board is the leading pipe-borne water provider in Sri Lanka. As a primary function, the water board is involved in investigating, planning, designing, construction and supervision of water supply and sewerage projects with local funds and donor assistance. Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown aetiology (CKDu) has emerged as a significant contributor to the burden in rural Sri Lanka. It is characterised by the absence of identified causes for CKD.


The prevalence of CKDu is 15.1–22.9% in some districts and researches have found it’s an association with water sector. Hence providing safe drinking water has become a vital factor in those areas. In the project water supply systems in CKD affected areas are being improved in four provinces (Central, North Central, North Western, and Uva) to provide safe drinking water. The schemes included development of new water supply systems and expansion of existing systems, mostly run by National Water Supply and Drainage Board. Facilities such as raw water intakes, water treatment plants, overhead tanks, and transmission and distribution networks are eligible for financing. About 30 schemes will be developed or expanded and will be implemented by respective provincial councils with technical inputs and supervision support from NWSDB. Considering the nature and complexity of the schemes, the piped-network will be operated by NWSDB, except in local authorities which have adequate operational capacity.


Water supply projects associated with many construction-related activities, overall as a development activity that need to considering environmental aspects to prevent or minimise any possible impacts. Even though National Environment Act guided for environmental considerations in roads development or water supply or building construction, due to mandatory requirement of International Financial Institutions that financial assistance provided with a condition of Environmental Safeguards which has been integrated with a great extent.



Its clearly understood importance of environmental conservation or protection in development projects, while development processes required to fulfil human needs and comforts. Even though achieving sustainability at least its important for manage the development works which is leading to protect and conserve various components and aspects of the environment.


Having this background, use of environmental safeguards in development projects have been studied with respect to a few examples in Sri Lanka such as development of roads, buildings and water supply projects. The objective of this paper is to bring attention to present status of use of a system called environmental safeguards in few development projects in Sri Lanka.




Documentation review and field observations have been carried out during the project implementation period as following.


Development TypePeriodAreaSafeguard Principals
Roads Improvement2012 –
Uva Province, Northern Province and Eastern ProvinceThe World Bank
Buildings & minor
2016North Central Province, North Western Province, Uva Province,
Central Province, Western Province, Southern Province and
Sabaragamuwa Province.
Asian Development
Water Supply and Buildings2017North Central Province, North Western Province,
Uva Province, Central Province, Western Province,
Southern Province
Asian Development


Environmental safeguards documentation has been reviewed in different scales from global to particular development activity level. As an example; World Bank Environmental Safeguards Policy and Asian Development Bank Environmental Safeguards Policy at Global level. Conducted field observations to understand the implementation level of environmental safeguards usage in a particular area to protect and conserve the environment and/or minimise/prevent negative impacts that were affected by the environment.

Results/Findings& Discussion:


CategoryType of
Global LevelNational/ Country
Project/Sub project levelPeriodic Monitoring
Environmental Assessment
Roads Specific Environmental
Environmental Management
Environmental Management
Action Plan
Monthly Progress
Buildings and
Water supply
Assessment &
Initial Environmental
Due Diligence Report –
Management Plan,
Management Action Plan
Quarterly Progress
Semi Annual Progress
Monitoring Reports

Other Documentation, such as;


  • Re-plantation Development Proposal in Uva Province with Forest Department
  • Sub-project specific Pre-feasibility report, Eg. Hambegamuwa Water Supply Project


Roads Sector:


Under the Environmental Safeguards Policy of IFI’s globally, it has been developed the Environmental Assessment and Management Framework (EAMF) as the Project-based overall document to guide the entire project. The EAMF enriched with environmental impact category and nature of the environmental impact, and possible mitigation measures have been described precisely under the phases of Pre-construction, During-Construction and Post-Construction.


According to EAMF the Roads Specific, Environmental Assessment has been conducted for each of the roads and prepared the report for guiding to development of Environmental Management Plan, also to further develop the Environmental Management Action Plan. Concluding, the Environmental Safeguards system in roads development sector well established for better Environmental Management by balancing the concept of “development & conservation”.


Water Sector:


Asian Development Bank (ADB) requires the consideration of environmental issues in all aspects of the Bank’s operations, and the requirements for environmental assessment are described in ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS), 2009. The subproject is considered in different financial scales, and potential environmental impacts have been assessed using ADB Rapid Environmental Assessment Checklist for Water Supply then potential negative effects were identified in relation to pre, construction and operation of the improved infrastructure. Based on results of the assessment and ADB SPS, the subprojects classified as environmental Category B, i.e., the subproject is judged to be unlikely to have significant adverse environmental impacts. An initial environmental examination (IEE) is required to determine whether significant environmental impacts warranting an environmental impact assessment are likely. The IEE was based mainly on secondary sources of information and field reconnaissance surveys; as the subproject is of their scale, construction of the rapid sand filters will involve straight forward construction methods and impacts were assessed to be site-specific, short in duration and limited mostly to construction phase only, no field monitoring (environmental) survey was conducted.


However, baseline monitoring on noise and dust levels supposed to be conducted by the contractors before start of civil works to activities will be limited within permissible values, or not above the background values if these are above the allowable limits. Stakeholder consultation was an integral part of the IEE.




Accordingly, environmental safeguards measures have been implemented in roads improvement project under the World Bank safeguard policies and water supply and buildings construction in Asian Development Bank safeguards policies. These safeguards policies have directed to development of a Safeguards Framework for entire project and based on such frameworks subproject or activity-specific environmental assessment or impact assessment reports have been developed in line with impact level such as Environmental Assessment Reports, Initial Environmental Examination Reports, Environmental Due Diligence Reports also Environmental Management Plans and Environmental Management Action Plans addressed in ground level. But it is questionable minimizing or preventing environmental impacts into expected level due to many reasons.


Bibliography :


  • Safeguards Policy Statement, 2009, Asian Development Bank, Manila.


  • Environmental Assessment and Management Framework, 2009. World Bank-supported Provincial Roads Project, Sri Lanka.


  • Environmental Assessment & Review Framework (Updated), 2016. ADB assisted Local Government Enhancement Sector Project, Sri Lanka.


  • National Roads Master Plan, 2007.Roads Development Authority, Sri Lanka.


  • Safeguards Policy Statement, 2009. Asian Development Bank, Manila.



Author and Correspondence:
Poorna Yahampath
Environmental Safeguards Expert
Egis International – ADB supported LGESP,
Sri Lanka


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