In Mannar district in northern Sri Lanka, the Periyamadu reservoir (known as the "tank" locally) is more than just a source of clean drinking water − it is a source of life and supports livelihoods.

Kokulan, 48, is just one of the many people that rely on the reservoir − the largest of its kind in Mannar.

Kokulan and his family only returned to their homeland in 2010, to Kachchanamaradamadu, five miles outside of Periyamadu. They, like many of the families trapped amid the bitter Sri Lankan civil war, had fled their home in 2007.

Though the three-decade war between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ended in 2009, its deadly legacy lives on. 

Kokulan alerted local UK Aid-funded MAG teams to the landmines contaminating the Periyamadu water tank

It was Kokulan that alerted MAG teams to the deadly remnants of war that littered the site of the reservoir.

"Between 2010-2012, 12 cows from my herd died in and around the Periyamadu tank area," Kokulan explains. The cows had paid the ultimate price for accidentally triggering landmines, the brutally indiscriminate legacy of conflict. 

"I do paddy cultivation. During the paddy cultivation period we take our herd away from our paddy lands. Our cattle stay in the area around the tank, it's grazing land." 

The mines not only threatened Kokulan's ability to provide for his family but his life as well. 

Thanks to the support of British taxpayers and UK Aid, however, MAG deminers have now been able to clear the Periyamadu reservoir site of mines, allowing Kokulan and the local community to live and work freely.

MAG staff are working to save lives and build safer futures for communities across Sri Lanka

This is great news for Kokulan, and many others in the Kachchanamaradamadu community. Cattle grazing isn't the only livelihood the Periyamadu site supports.

“I catch 10-20 kg of fish per day from the Periyamadu. The lowest price I sell this fish is LKR 150 (about 64p) per kg. I sell my catch to a businessman who collects the fish I catch and takes to Colombo to sell,” says Kokulan.

The jungle around the Periyamadu reservoir also provides a seasonal income for Kokulan and his family. Every year, between April and August, Kokulan sets out with two of his friends in search of honey. They collect three to five bottles a day. The honey sells for LKR 1,200 (about £5) a bottle, and the income is shared equally.

Before MAG arrived to clear Periyamadu, providing for their families put Kokulan and his friends' lives in daily danger. They lived in constant fear that one day they wouldn't return from a honey-hunting expedition.

Impact of UK Aid funding in 2019

Land released and safely returned to communities


Landmines and cluster bombs found and destroyed


People directly benefited from our work


“Before clearance, I see the ground and go as I am afraid of the landmines. Now I look up and go when I’m collecting honey. I’m no longer afraid,” says Kokulan. 

Freed from fear, Kokulan has been able to embrace his entrepreneurial spirit. 

Kahchnamaradamadu is located close to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, a site which draws thousands of religious devotees every summer.

Now Periyamadu is clear, Kokulan collects wood from the site and sells it to the worshippers to build their camps, earning his family an additional LKR 30,000 (about £128) every summer.

This would not be possible without the vital support of British taxpayers.

In 2019, UK Aid funding has meant MAG and its partners HALO and NPA were able to make safe more than 27 million square metres of land, finding and destroying almost 17,000 unexploded bombs and more than 6,700 landmines, helping more than 389,000 people across six countries.

MAG and UK Aid