The complexity of development activities, in which the interactions between various forces often mean that outcomes are unpredictable and unanticipated, highlights the importance of objective and comprehensive evaluations. In the specific case of the evaluation of towns east and south of Colombo water supply projects, the findings have major implications for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, if the water-related objectives are to be fulfilled. The study found that 30% of the households of these towns that are receiving clean, piped water are not using it for drinking. Instead, they are continuing to drink contaminated well water. Whereas it is considered that the main beneficiaries of water supply projects have been women and people who are sick, elderly, or disabled, the general perception is that the health conditions of the families have not improved with the provision of clean water (in fact, many claim that their health conditions have deteriorated). In spite of the higher cost of the supplied water, people are willing to pay for it as long as the supply is reliable.
By Asit K. Biswas, Ramani Jayatilaka and Cecilia Tortajada, 2005. Article published in Ambio, Volume 34, Issue 8, pages 639-644.