Drinking Water and Kidney Diseases Research Intern

Organisation Name: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka (Janathakshan Office – Anuradhapura; Bandarakumbukwewa, Palugasweewa and Sivalakulama Cascades of Malwatu Oya Basin)
No. of places available: 2

Teaching Periods Applicable: Semester 2 (23/7 – 19/10), Trimester 2 (14/5 – 17/8), Term 3 (1/7 – 30/9)
Duration: 8 Weeks

Unit Offered : APG 5044

Last Date to Apply : 16th June 2018

About the Organisation

UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. The UNDP Programme adopts a UN inter-agency approach, and has built partnerships with a range of stakeholders, from government ministries and local government agencies to community-based and non-government organizations.

Role Description: To develop a risk rating system for the households in the project area, depending on their lifestyles and drinking water sources.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu) is a widespread disease in Sri Lanka, and first detected in the early 1990s in North Central Province. CKDu is toxic nephropathy that causes tubular necrosis. It differs from the pathophysiology of CKD caused by hypertension, diabetes, ureteric calculi, glomerulonephritis, pyelonephritis or snakebite.

Areas adjacent to North Central Province also have rates of including Ampara, Badulla, Kurunegala, Matale, Mullative, Trincomalee and Vavuniya Districts. There are approximately 70,000 estimated CKD/CKDu patients in the above high risk areas of the country. The high prevalence CKD/CKDu areas are; Madawachchiya, Padaviya, Kabathigollawa, Rambawa, Madirigiriya, Wilgamuwa, Girandurukotte, Padavi Sripura, Gomerankadawala, Dehiattakandiya, Polpithigama and Welioya Medical Officer of Health (MOH)/Divisional Secretariat (DS) areas.

According to available health statistics, there are approximately 20,000 admissions/re-admission of patients with renal failure to government hospitals with approximately 2,000 deaths annually.

The majority of persons affected are farmers engaged in agriculture in the North Central Province and the parts of North Western, Uva, Central and Eastern Provinces

Assessing drinking water supply has been identified as a key way of minimising the risk of CKDu.  Baseline survey data of households is available in three Cascade water systems of the Malwatu Oya Basin, in the above mentioned DS Divisions of Anuradhapura in North Central Province. The next stage of the research will be to identify and map all the individual and common drinking water sources in these areas. The above survey will also identify details of CKDu patients in the household within the above districts.

The objectives of this internship are:

  • analysing the relationships between CKDu prevalence and drinking water sources within the identified Cascades of Malwathu Oya River Basin
  • develop a risk rating system for the households in the project area, depending on their lifestyles and drinking water sources.

Outcomes: Findings report and policy recommendations

Students will work with Dr Samanthi Gunawardana (Director, Masters of International Development Practice, School of Social Science, Faculty of Arts) to refine the study design and finalise the report and policy recommendations.


  • Currently enrolled in a Graduate Arts program at Monash University
  • Able to adapt to the living conditions in a remote area with average facilities (not necessary reliable as in Colombo)
  • Able to interact with the local communities from different cultures, respect their knowledge and cultural values

Desired Competencies and Skills: Development Practices, Environment & Sustainability, Social Sciences, Technical Studies, Psychology. Preference to those who have had exposure in research that links health issues to development

Scholarships & Funding: This opportunity falls under the Asia Postgrad Scholarship Program. Please click here to read more. This means that successful students will be eligible for a grant of AUD 2000. 

For further information about available scholarships and funding please click on the links below:

How to Apply

Please follow the step-by-step guide on how to apply for APG5044 Overseas Internship. Select Option A in Step 2. When you log onto inPlace, you will see “UNDP Research Graduate Internship Sri Lanka” opportunity available to apply to. 

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the WIL International Team on email via wil.international@monash.edu, or give us a call on (03) 9903 8866.