Rehabilitation and Flood Mitigation of “Dorawela Oya” in Balangoda Town Commences with Community Participation

15th August 2012, Balangoda, Sri Lanka: The rehabilitation of Dorawela Oya (stream) in Balangoda town commenced on Thursday 15th August 2012 with a community driven “Shramadana” (clean-up operation). The rehabilitation of the polluted “Dorawela Oya” stream, which is an important water source for Balangoda town, is a key initiative under the project “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities”. This project is being implemented by UN-Habitat in close collaboration with the Balangoda Local Authority, Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the University of Moratuwa. Funding for the project has been provided by the Government of Australia.

The clean-up operation together with a tree planting campaign was organized as the primary step of the rehabilitation initiative with support of the Balangoda Urban Council and local community. The main objective of the clean-up effort was to clear the canal bank of debris and improve the green belt of the stream reservation. Hon. Nimal Weerasinghe, Mayor of Balangoda, other council members, officers of the council and more than 100 community members actively participated in this effort.

The main objectives of the rehabilitation of the Dorawela Oya initiative is to mitigate urban flood inundation of Balangoda town and to improve adaptive capacity, minimize erosion of the stream bank and to provide recreational and leisure facilities to enhance the aesthetic value of the area. The project will incorporate traditional and modern engineering and landscape solutions for stabilization and rehabilitation of the stream bank and flood mitigation in a sustainable manner.

Following the “Shramadana” campaign, the third Technical Working group (TWG) meeting for Balangoda was conducted to obtain feedback on the ongoing Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness (DRR&PP) Plan for Balangoda town and the Dorawela Oya rehabilitation project. Prof. P.K.S. Mahanama, Dean, Faculty of Architecture of Moratuwa University presented the current status of the DRR&PP Plan. Mr. Kumara Pathirana, Provincial Director Sabaragamuwa Provincial office of the UDA presented the Development Plan for the Balangoda Urban Development Area. One of the objectives of the TWG is to incorporate DRR planning into the Balangoda Urban Development Plan. Thereafter, Archt. Charmara Liyanage, landscape designer, discussed the conceptual design for the Dorawela Oya rehabilitation project.

Members of the TWG, officers of the Urban Council and representatives of the Government of Australia (AusAID) and UN-Habitat also participated at the TWG meeting.

Balangoda is the one of the four towns and cities being assisted by the Government of Australia funded 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.