Determining Environmental Influences on Kidney Disease

Sri Lanka

Featured image for the project, Determining Environmental Influences on Kidney Disease


The Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX), in partnership with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya Movement(Sarvodaya) of Sri Lanka, has located Sri Lankan and international scientists to understand the epidemic of CKDnt in Sri Lanka through community interviews, literature review and geochemical laboratory research.

Chronic kidney disease of non-traditional causes (CKDnt) is one of the major public health threats in Sri Lanka. Thirteen patients die every day from this epidemic. An estimated 100,000 patients have died since the outbreak began in the mid-1990s, while currently there are 400,000 patients. Most patients are paddy farmers from low socioeconomic backgrounds living in resettled areas. The pathology of CKDnt, tubulointerstitial nephritis, is the same as the outbreak in Central America, India, and Egypt, and research into the etiology of CKDnt has pointed to chronic dehydration and extreme heat exhaustion as a factor for affected farmers. Additionally, some linkages may exist to agrochemical contamination of reservoirs, soil depletion, malnutrition, cadmium and arsenic pollution of water, soil and food, groundwater hardness and fluoride content. More research must be conducted to examine the intricacies of these possible etiologies under the highest laboratory standards. Additionally, any conflict of interest must be identified to ensure the integrity of the conducted research.


Expected Outcomes

The results of the study will become part of a broad based, multisectoral, interdisciplinary effort to produce a strategic prevention plan for the nation and immediately implementable community-based solutions. Research results will contribute to an important global dialogue about this epidemic.

Project Team

The Community Leads


Dr.Vinya Ariyaratne is the General Secretary of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, Sri Lanka’s largest non-governmental grass roots development organization, serving 15,000 village communities. Dr. Ariyaratne is a physician by training and specialized in Public Health. He holds numerous fellowships and degrees, including his M.D. from the De La Salle University in the Philippines and his M.P.H. from the Johns Hopkins University. In recognition of his dedication to humanitarian causes and peace initiatives, Dr. Ariyaratne was awarded the Degree of Civil Law honoris causa by the University of Durham, U.K. in 2007.


Tharindu Gunathilaka is currently a program coordinator for Sarvodaya, and manages stakeholders and project implementation. He also served as an academic staff member at the University of Peradeniya, where earned his B.S. in Zoology. He remains active in his field and has gained participatory knowledge through his work with national and international level research projects conducted by universities and non-governmental conservation agencies. His research interests focus on the use of indigenous knowledge & community involvement to facilitate the integrated conservation and sustainable development.

The Scientific Liaison


Katherine Telfeyan is a PhD candidate at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her B.S. in Geology  from Washington & Lee University in 2010. Katherine’s dissertation focus is the mobility, fate, and transport of contaminants in groundwater systems.