New IWA Young Water Professionals Chapter in Sri Lanka
As part of IWA’s mission to empower Young Water Professionals to contribute to sustainable water management, a new IWA Young Water Professionals (IWA YWP) chapter was officially established in Sri Lanka in April 2023. This IWA YWP chapter will be the country’s go-to network boosting connections for YWPs and a platform to support equal opportunities and quality career development. As a voluntary network, the Sri Lanka chapter is open to all water professionals aged 35 or below who are enthusiastic, dedicated, and passionate about water-related issues. Here, Ishanka Wimalaweera, Chair of YWP Sri Lanka, presents some key points about the chapter.
Q: What was the motivation for setting up an IWA YWP Chapter in Sri Lanka?
IW: Water is more than a resource to Sri Lanka. As an island nation in the Indian Ocean with a unique historic hydraulic civilization, water is part of our national identity. Moreover, being an agriculture-based economy, Sri Lanka’s economic growth can only be achieved through better water resources management.
51.8% of the Sri Lankan population has access to pipe-borne water supply services while 48.2% relies on alternative sources such as streams, wells, tube wells. The Sri Lankan Government aims to deliver safe drinking water for all by 2025. The biggest constraints that are limiting the growth of the Sri Lankan water sector are lack of appropriate funding, high infrastructure costs for both treatment, operation and maintenance, pollution by the agricultural sector and industries, and poor water and wastewater management.
This YWP chapter seeks to create a platform where Sri Lankan young water professionals can share their knowledge and experience to empower the future generation of water leaders. The YWP engagements will advance the Sri Lankan water sector through capacity-building, advocacy for water needs, professional development, and the discovery of new approaches to solve issues in the Sri Lankan water sector. To achieve these objectives, the chapter will actively collaborate with the IWA Governing Member in Sri Lanka.
Q: How will the chapter contribute to the empowerment of YWPs to contribute to the national water agenda of Sri Lanka?
IW: YWPs have a key responsibility in the water sector to solve above-mentioned current challenges which are exacerbated by population growth and climate change. Our priorities will focus on institutionalising Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) and implementing SDG 6.
Solving these challenges and finding solutions requires a platform where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged, providing opportunities for capacity building through networking and connections. The IWA YWP Sri Lanka chapter aims to bridge the existing gap between research and practice. Thanks to the international recognition of IWA and access to resources and innovations, the chapter will bring sector experts, policymakers, private entities and other relevant stakeholders together in a common platform to achieve goals in the Sri Lankan water sector.
Q: What are your aims and objectives for your chapter, and what activities do you plan to do?
IW: Our main goal is bridging the gap between innovation, research and practice. Our chapter wants to act as a key enabler to integrate global innovations and established practices for better water management in the national planning and policies. To do this, we will bring together all stakeholders, including policymakers, planners, practitioners and academia, into a common platform on IWA Connect Plus. The chapter will increase access to local and global networks and resources. It will initiate various activities and events at the national and regional level, including site visits for water professionals, knowledge sharing sessions, and workshops for capacity development to empower the next generation of water leaders. Our ultimate goal is to provide universal benefit to society through an empowered and enthusiastic network of youth in action.
The objectives of the YWP Sri Lanka chapter are to create inclusive opportunities for young Sri Lankan water professionals through:
- Professional Development
- Knowledge Sharing
Meet the founding committee of the IWA YWP Sri Lanka Chapter
Ishanka is a Civil Engineer with an MSc in Environmental and Water Engineering. He is currently a Ph.D candidate in Environmental Engineering at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research interest covers industrial wastewater treatment, biological processes, anaerobic digestion, chemical coagulation in wastewater treatment and membrane bioreactor technology. Ishanka has authored several research publications and book chapters. Ishanka is also the managing director of an environmental engineering company in Sri Lanka providing consulting, construction and laboratory services in the environmental engineering sector. He has been an IWA member since 2018.
Chathura Sanjeewa is a Civil Engineer with MSc in Integrated Water Resources Management from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. He currently serves as a Senior Engineer at the National Water Supply and Drainage Board. Chathura is a chartered civil engineer and a corporate member of the Institute of Engineers in Sri Lanka. Chathura also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Construction Management and he has earned his Bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka. Chathura is currently engaged as an active member of many scientific and professional societies in Sri Lanka.
Kreshaanth works for UTE Engineering as an Environmental Engineering specialist, mainly working on designing water and wastewater treatment plants and implementing projects. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Water Science and Technology from Uva Wellassa University in Sri Lanka and completed his Master’s degree in Environmental Pollution Control Engineering from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Kreshaanth is well experienced in the industry and has worked for several companies in the water sector. His experience includes wastewater treatment and nitrogen removal and recovery from wastewater. Kreshaanth is an active member of the Institute of Environmental Professionals Sri Lanka and has been an IWA member since 2019.
Nishanka is an early-career researcher in water resource management. She has completed her PhD in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) at the University of Peradeniya, in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines. Nishanka obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from Rajarata University in Sri Lanka, followed by an Mphil in IWRM from the University of Peradeniya. During her career, Nishanka worked with several national and international academic organisations in water research including the well-known CGIAR group. Her major research interests are agricultural water management, water governance, sustainable agri-food systems, climate change, and environmental footprint.
Ramodh works for the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency in Sri Lanka as a Research Scientist in Environmental Sciences. In addition to a Master’s degree in Environmental Pollution Control Engineering from the University of Peradeniya, he graduated with a BSc in water science from the Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka. He has experience in the fields of wastewater treatment and water quality as a Laboratory Manager and Design Engineer at wastewater treatment facilities. He worked on research and development projects that looked at water treatment methods for enhancing the ultimate effluent quality of industrial and urban wastewater, reservoir water quality, and coastal water quality. He is also familiar with the examination of physicochemical variables for water quality and the interpretation of their findings in relation to environmental deterioration.
Achala is a carbon and water accounting analyst working mainly on accounting climate impacts. He obtained his B.Eng degree from Curtin University in Australia, and currently he is pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Achala is co-founder of a company which develops climate-tech sustainable solutions. He has worked for several international and national organisations prior to his current role, including the Rainwater Harvesting Forum, the Human Rights Center in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology. Achala is also a certified consultant in water auditing and water footprint assessment based on ISO 14046:2014. His major interests are carbon and water accounting, climate impacts, climate-related finance, diplomacy and international affairs. He has been an IWA member since 2018.
Indrajith is a Civil Engineer and has been working for the Sri Lankan government. Currently, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and Management at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok. His research interests include anaerobic digestion, membrane technology, wastewater treatment technology, sanitation systems and resource recovery and reuse. During his career he has worked with several institutions in Sri Lanka and internationally and has worked on desktop research, field studies, impact assessment studies, and contributed to several capacity building programmes with a range of stakeholders from government to end users in various cities in Sri Lanka. He has published and presented several research works in many reputed international and national journals and conferences. Indrajith has been an IWA member since 2018.
Methila currently works as an executive member in a leading bottled water manufacturing firm in Sri Lanka. Earlier he has worked as a research consultant at the International Water Management Institute in Sri Lanka. He has earned a BSc. at the University of Uva Wellassa, Sri Lanka, in Mineral Resources and Technology (Hons.) specialising in water science and technology. He is currently reading for a Bachelor of Information Technology at the University of Colombo School of Computing, Sri Lanka. Methila is also Cisco Certified Network Associate and CyberOps Associate. Methila’s interests are water and wastewater treatment processes, and hydrogeological and groundwater modeling.
Kasun currently works as a Research Associate at Saitama University, Japan. During his undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral studies, he conducted research on environmental engineering. His PhD research was on the treatment of cyanobacteria using the electrocoagulation-flotation process. His research has been published in reputed international journals. He has experience in water and wastewater treatment. As part-time Research Assistant at the University of Peradeniya, he was mainly involved in projects focusing on the mitigation of the Kurunegala Lake in Sri Lanka (in collaboration with the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute in Singapore) and on the safe management and disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls waste in Sri Lanka, led by the University of Peradeniya and the Ministry of Environment. Furthermore, Kasun is one of the directors of a company in Sri Lanka providing consulting, construction and laboratory services in the environmental engineering sector.
Saumya is an aspiring young water professional interested in improving water usage and management. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Water Science and Technology from the Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka and is currently pursuing a Master degree in Environmental Engineering and Management at the Asian Institute of Technology in Thailand. She gained exposure to water research by working at the International Water Management Institute and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board in Sri Lanka. Her research interests include water treatment using novel technologies, wetlands systems, and solid waste management. Saumya is also a member of the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World supported by UNESCO, and a life member of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science.