Sustainable Water Management Practices: Lessons from Ancient Sri Lanka

Institute for Research into International Competitiveness Discussion Paper No. 5/04

16 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2007 Last revised: 5 Dec 2014

See all articles by Nick Wills-Johnson

Nick Wills-Johnson

DBP

Peter Kenyon

Curtin University - School of Economics and Finance; Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics

C. Pollett

Katalyst 21 Pty Ltd

Date Written: November 1, 2004

Abstract

Many Developing Countries struggle with the most appropriate way by which to ensure that sufficient resources are available, in a sustainable manner, for the provision of water services. This problem is not new however, but rather is one which most societies have faced in the past, some with considerable success. This paper considers the case of the hydraulic civilisation of Ancient Sri Lanka, not from the perspective of its engineering feats, which are well-known, but from the management aspects of its irrigation system. It suggests that the Ancient Sri Lankans devised a two tier system which, although it had engineering and economic inefficiencies in its physical structure, was perfectly suited to the level of social capital available at the time. Given that social capital is precisely what limits many Developing Countries, this suggests that Ancient Sri Lanka may provide lessons for water resource management which may have application in Developing Countries today.

Keywords: Sri Lanka, Water

JEL Classification: L92, N45, N55

Suggested Citation

Wills-Johnson, Nick and Kenyon, Peter and Pollett, C., Sustainable Water Management Practices: Lessons from Ancient Sri Lanka (November 1, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1002254 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1002254

Nick Wills-Johnson (Contact Author)

DBP ( email )

PO Box Z5267
St Georges Terrace
Perth, 6831
Australia

Peter Kenyon

Curtin University - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box U 1987
Perth, Western Australia 6845
Australia
+61 8 9266 3041 (Phone)
+61 8 9266 2872 (Fax)

Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics ( email )

GPO Box U1987
Perth, Western Australia 6845
Australia

C. Pollett

Katalyst 21 Pty Ltd

P.O. Box 5130
Sydney, New South Wales 2000
Australia

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