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SL-based IWMI wins world's most prestigious Water Prize

The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), headquartered in Pelawatte, Battaramulla, has been named the Stockholm Water Prize Laureate for 2012.

Awarded by the Stockholm International Water Institute, this prestigious prize, honours individuals, institutions or organizations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and to the improved health of the planet's inhabitants and ecosystems.

IWMI is the first international research institution to have received this accolade, IWMI Director General Colin Chartres said.

The Director General said, "We are delighted that the hard work of everyone at IWMI had been recognized in this way. This is unquestionably the single most important international award in the water sector. To have won it, is outstanding and a testament to the professionalism and dedication of everyone at IWMI, past and present."

IWMI, the only international organization headquartered in Sri Lanka, was founded in 1985 as an irrigation management institute and later expanded its activities to explore more broadly how the needs of various water users could be met to help alleviate poverty, protect the environment and improve food security.

IWMI currently employs over 300 staff and has regional offices in 10 countries.

In Sri Lanka, the Institute has worked actively with many partners in the water sector to address such pressing issues as sustainable groundwater use, improved farm productivity and adaptation strategies for climate change.

After the tsunami in 2004, IWMI research helped accelerate well rehabilitation in affected areas.

The awards committee praised IWMI's work as having led to 'new policies and investments in agriculture that had not only enabled more productive use of water, but had enhanced food security, economic development and environmental health around the world.'

Welcoming the award, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, said, "I heartily congratulate the Board of Governors and staff members of IWMI for this well-deserved accolade. Sri Lanka is proud to be the host to a leading global institution like IWMI and it clearly demonstrates that our scientists, in partnership with their international colleagues, are at the cutting edge of new thinking on water management."

"Sri Lanka has placed the management of water resources as a high priority since ancient times. Evidence of this is apparent when looking at our ancient irrigation systems, which had captured the attention of the world. Establishment of the headquarters of the

International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Colombo was an obvious choice for these reasons. This gave the opportunity for IWMI to gain lessons from our ancient irrigation successes, as well as being able to bring international experts to assist with our current water challenges and developments.

We have seen IWMI grow into a world-renowned scientific research centre, and their findings have significantly contributed to water resources policies in Sri Lanka and across Asia and Africa where the Institute works.

On behalf of the Irrigation and Water Resources Management Ministry Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and ministry Secretary, Eng. K. W. Ivan de Silva, also spoke.

The prize will be presented to IWMI through Dr Chartres during World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, in August, 2012.

The announcement of the award comes on World Water Day (March 22), which is also the launch date for a new global campaign to bring people together to develop water solutions that create jobs, grow more food, keep us healthy and protect nature (see www.RipplesOnWater.org ).

The 'Ripples on Water' campaign will be launched in Sri Lanka through a unique coming together of art, science and development with a laser and water dance spectacular.

This event will be held this week in Colombo's only open air theatre the Viharamahadevi Park on March 23 and 24.

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