A Disaster Risk Reduction Unit for Balangoda with the Assistance of AusAID and UN-Habitat

5th July 2012, Balangoda, Sri Lanka: A Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) unit was declared open at the Balangoda Urban Council premises by Hon. Gamini Weerasinghe, the Mayor of Balangoda, on 5th of July 2012 under the “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities” project funded by Australian Government (AusAID), and implemented by UN-Habitat.

The DRR unit will assist the city of Balangoda, a disaster prone hill country locale, as a central facility for overall disaster risk reduction. This unit will be responsible for the implementation of the Disaster Preparedness Plan, being formulated under the same initiative.

While the project is operational the DRR unit will  coordinate, supervise and monitor the project implementation in consultation with the recommendations of the technical working group (TWG) established by the project. The TWG comprises of  local government officials responsible for governance, planning, engineering, health, environment, etc., and community representation.

This unit will  record disaster related events and keep an up-to-date inventory of DRR resources. Raising community awareness and access to information on disaster resilient technologies, and guidance on DRR procedures adapted by relevant institutions are among the services offered.

The opening ceremony which brought together participants from Balangoda Urban Council, Divisional Secretariat Office, Disaster Management Centre and UN-Habitat concluded with a  Technical Working Group discussion on planning future activities.

Balangoda is the one of the four towns and cities being assisted under the Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities Project.  The project aims to establish sustainable disaster resilient and healthy cities and townships in disaster prone regions of Sri Lanka.