Response to water stress

We did this through a series of simple hardware interventions. On the one hand, we built agro-wells for  families who desparately needed a strong water source to irrigate their paddy lands. On the other hand, we worked with communities to identify areas where there was a need to rehabilitate existing irrigation canals or provide connectors to optimize water availability for paddy cultivation. All of these were in the lower north-east of the KCF, in Weheragala, Dungolla, Ratninda and Sulugune areas of the treatment terrain of COLIBRI. In most cases, our monitoring showed that the actual beneficiaries were greater than those estimated by the field staff. A really pleasant surprise.


However, here we have a word of warning. When we recently went to take a look at the works under progress at Rathninda, we found a hidden leak which our field staff had failed to detect. We were not amused but thankfully, the problem was located and rectified although it goes to show that field staff do not always work with a red-light mind-set that is constantly figuring out why something will fail and not why something will succeed and take appropriate investigative steps and risk reduction strategies into their activities.


The Dungolla canal was a late addition since we had decided not to go ahead with the flower garden because we found that it was not going to be either cost effective or sustainable.

From commencement to completion - Irrigation Canal at Rathninda

From commencement to completion – Irrigation Canal at Rathninda

Work-in-progress - Irrigation canal at Sulugune

Work-in-progress – Irrigation canal at Sulugune


What we can deliver in terms of machinery, we have

GMSL CEO and field staff handing over machines to the VLMAs of Rathninda, Etanwala, Medaella and Pitawala

GMSL CEO and field staff handing over machines to the VLMAs of Rathninda, Etanwala, Medaella and Pitawala

Oh well, what can we say? A month’s delay in obtaining our second instalment resulted our inability to purchase the planned number of white pepper machines because prices escalated exorbitantly with the floating rupee and 80% inflation. We had to do some quite recalibration and readjustment based on other community needs that we were able to cover with our limited funds. So, oorid seed spliters and hand-tractors were added to the mix and the number of white pepper machines reduced.

We are being watchful on this matter and will provide them to the communities through their respective VLMAs, RBMAs since most of these will be placed on privately held areas and we know full well that there are strong opportunities for those people to end up commandeering for themselves what was provided for the entire community. We have seen that happen with other projects that have run their course in the same terrain and will not have that happen to COLIBRI provided machinery inputs.

The schedule

The schedule for distributing machinery in the KCF


The seed banks are starting to take shape

The GMSL had central seed repositories for each of the three main river basins as primary interventions to ensure the sustainability of COLIBRI. For this, it identified locations belonging to villagers themselves where the seed banks were to be constructed. On the Heen Ganga, this was to be at Padupola where an existing but defunct seed storage facility was going to be refurbished. The one on the Thelagamu Oya was earmarked for Etanwala and that of the Kalu Ganga was to be at Narangamuwa. With all of these, the speed of construction was of course driven by the commitment of the specific set of villagers involved and the energy and drive of their respective cascade trainers and watchdogs. In that respect, the one at Etanwala came up fastest with the one at Narangamuwa slightly slower but following gamely. The one at Padupola is already constructed at some previous time but there has been comparatively little done there. When we visited the completed one at Etanwala, we saw that it was very well constructed and quite beautifully created. However, the seeds were being stored in plastic containers and that is a no no. A better option will be provided for them soon. Their ex-situ plantation was also coming along beautifully. The other two? Well… let us see how those progress. As with anything, the Greens only say something is done when it is done well and done with durability.

Seed Bank on the Thelgamu Oya: From construction to completion at Etanwala

Seed Bank on the Thelgamu Oya: From construction to completion at Etanwala

Internal and external of Etanwala seed bank

Internal and external of Etanwala seed bank: Note the plastic containers

Ex-situ plantation at Etanwala Seed Bank

Ex-situ plantation at Etanwala Seed Bank


World Environment Day 2022 – We have #OnlyOneEarth

The Green Movement is only too aware that our planet is all we have. This is why we are doing our bit to take care of it. GMSL-COLIBRI’s work in the KCF and its environs have proved our commitment to working with Indigenous People and Local Communities (IPLCs) under the adage “Those who use the most stand to lose the most so they conserve the most”. On World Environment Day  (WED) 2022, we will be launching a program to rehabilitate and rejuvenate about 100 acres of buffer zone forests in the Midland and Deanston estate areas where damaged natural forests and degraded tea lands will be given new natural life through a tree planting process. On the 5th of June (WED), we will be launching the exercise in the Midland Area. The effort will be a community led one as always. The Greens will work with their member organization Grama Abhivurdhi Foundation for Environment Conservation (GAFEC), local communities and its watchdog groups and cascade trainers on this exercise.

Update (6th June)

GMSL and GAFEC planted 520 trees (double the original estimate) at the picturesque camping site at Medawatte as a youth driven initiative with our watchdog groups joining with others in the area to enhance the area around the nature camp that had originally been created by GAFEC under the GEF-SFP 6 range of environmental initiatives. The program went of smoothly. However, as with all such interventions, our oversight would have to be constant to enable these areas to be maintained and the plants allowed to grow without being damaged either by locals or tourists.

The GMSL-GAFEC youth teams meeting before the exercise

The GMSL-GAFEC youth teams meeting before the exercise

Planting in progress

Planting in progress



Shot of the site with the teams from up on an adjecent knoll

Shot of the site with the teams from up on an adjecent knoll

Enjoying a mid-day meal after hard morning's work

Enjoying a mid-day meal after hard morning’s work


We complete two case studies on our work so far

It has been a year and a half into COLIBRI and while we had many battles to fight during that challenging and heady time what with COVID a country in economic crisis, a nation in agitation and general downturns across pretty much everything. Despite these challenges we still managed to meet our tasks head-on and during those engagements we tried not to take the easy way out, constantly rethinking our thinking. From those we extracted two short cases studies cum best practices (as part of a four study exercise) based on our experiences.


The first was on how to engage in sensitive areas where people and protected areas rub shoulders with one another. In that, we realized quickly that a community was a far bigger organism than most NGOs – indeed – most people suspect and we unpacked all of that through a fairly decent grammar while also talking about the way in which we blanket covered the area and literally left no one behind thereby actually increasing our workload but also massively improving the volume work that our donor funds were capable of delivering on the ground. You can read that study here.


The second was how we used the improvement of green cover across that terrain to increase community cohesion with everyone from state officials to medical officers, police, community farmers, youth and children, activists etc. getting enthusiastically involved in the effort that didn’t simply look at the protected area only but the larger terrain that had been damaged by rather ill-though initiatives – including myopic ideas of protection that caused more damage than it prevented. You can read that study here.


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