Socio-cultural, Ecological and Managerial Perspectives of a Selected Cascade Tank System in Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka
The main objective of the study was to assess the current knowledge and perceptions of the communities on the ecosystem services provided by the water tanks with special reference to a tank cascade system in Anuradhapura District. The findings were used to get an understanding of the present status of management, gaps and provide recommendations using an integrated approach with the relevant stakeholders. An ancient tank cascade system situated in the Kahatagasdigiliya Divisional Secretariat Division in Anuradhapura District of the North Central Province was used for the study. Four tanks constituted the selected cascade system, namely Bambarahela wewa, Kumbuk wewa, Diwul wewa and Hettu wewa and were located in three villages ie. Bambarahela, Diwulwewa and Hettuwewa. The former villages were inhabited by Sinhala Buddhist while the latter was by Muslims. These tanks are under the jurisdiction of the Konwewa Agrarian Development Office. Secondary data as well as primary data were collected on the socio economic, ecological and managerial environment of the tank cascade and related areas. Primary data were gathered using structured questionnaires, key informant interviews. Mixed methods were used to analyse data. According to the findings, majority of the village communities use the tank for farming and related activities, bathing and washing etc. However, none use the tank water for drinking as they have a notion that it is polluted. A statistically significant relationship (p<0.05) was not observed between the occupation and monthly income of the communities with their knowledge of the ecosystem services of the tanks while the education level of households showed a positive relationship (p<0.05). However, there was a lack of knowledge on the full range of ecosystem services of the tanks, tank cascades and this needed to be enhanced. All the respondents were of the view that the tank and associated environment need to be improved and while they were somewhat satisfied with the activities of the farmer organisations and the officials of the Department of Agrarian Services they agreed that this needed improvement to procure the full potential of the tank cascade system. All the respondents were willing to contribute to the improvement and conservation of the tanks. The majority (61%) agreed to pay a fee ranging from a minimum of Rs. 100 to above Rs. 200) annually for tank management. Therefore it could be recommended that in order to promote the ecosystem approach in tank management it is required to enhance the knowledge among the stakeholders and follow an inclusive and integrated approach with the participation of especially farmers and farmer organizations and the officials of the Department of Agrarian Services.
KEYWORDS: Cascade, tank, ecosystem services, management