IWC hosts Australian Award Fellows from Sri Lanka

IWC hosts Australian Award Fellows from Sri Lanka


The International WaterCentre (IWC) hosted 14 water professionals from Sri Lanka as part of a five-week training program in integrated groundwater management under the Australian Awards Fellowship program.

Sri Lankan AAF delegates on North Stradbroke Island for the WaterCentre training program

Through the Australian Awards Fellowships program (AAFs), funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the IWC has contributed to develop the water management capacity of over 350 delegates from across various developing countries. The latest addition to IWC’s AAF deliveries has been a five-week training program in integrated groundwater management for 14 delegates from Sri Lanka. The group included representatives from regional and national government departments, research institutions and universities, with a range of professional backgrounds including technical experts, policy makers and politicians.

Training Focus

The focus of the training was to provide the delegates with knowledge and skills to improve Sri Lanka’s groundwater management sector. Much of Sri Lanka’s rural economy is dependent upon sustained access to groundwater. In many areas, small-scale agriculture has been instrumental in lifting people out of poverty, leading to its intensification. However agricultural production and growth is reliant upon groundwater extraction, which at present is unregulated and unsustainable. Shallow groundwater systems, combined with a weak regulatory environment, enable farmers to construct unregulated wells to increase yields and income.


In 2013, an estimated 100,000 unregulated wells existed in the Jaffna Peninsula alone; a post conflict, poverty-stricken zone, almost entirely dependent upon groundwater for both agricultural and domestic use. Sustained access to safe groundwater, critical to rural economic growth, is in jeopardy from i) challenges of over-extraction and depleting supplies ii) rising contamination from agricultural practices and inadequate sanitation infrastructure, and iii) salt water intrusion from indiscriminate abstraction.

Learning from Australian water management

To help the delegates and their institutions address the above-mentioned challenges, the IWC, in cooperation with the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), delivered a program that includes lectures, workshops and field trips to showcase best practices in the integrated management of groundwater resources. The delegates first learnt about the water reform and policy making context in Australia; this served as a baseline to explore the fundamentals of Integrated Water Management (IWM), stakeholder management, conflict resolution and leadership in the water sector.


They also undertook technical training with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and visited one of the world’s leading groundwater management case studies: The Coastal Burnett Groundwater Management Area, in Bundaberg, Central Queensland. Delegates were exposed to innovations in the areas of alternative water sources (such as rain/stormwater harvesting and desalination technologies), low-cost technologies for run-off nutrient removal, and best practices in groundwater dependant agriculture.

Additionally, the IWC guided delegates in the development of “Change Projects”. These are project plans that outline a vision for change, and the actions needed to achieve it. Through “Change Projects”, delegates can help drive positive change in their country’s groundwater sector. They also create a mechanism by which the IWC can follow-up on the impacts of the program, and provide delegates with feedback on the progress of their envisioned change.

More information

This AAF delivery came to an end in early December 2016. With 2017 just around corner, however, the IWC is committed to continuing to supporting water professionals around the world through the AAF program and other mechanisms.

For more information on our training program or AAF hosting please contact,
T: +61 7 3028 7600


The Australian Awards Fellowship Program is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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