14 March 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: A training programme on “Disaster Management Information Systems” was held in Colombo recently for Local Authority Officials, and Urban Planners of Balangoda and Ratnapura cities. This training programme was a key output of the project ‘Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities’ funded by the Government of Australia, being implemented in the cities of Balangoda, Ratnapura, Batticaloa and Kalmunai in Sri Lanka.
The five day residential training programme was held in Colombo during 9th to 13th March 2013. The primary objective of the training was to provide vital technical knowledge on modern technology in planning and monitoring in the field of disaster management.
The training programme was specifically designed for officials responsible for urban planning and management such as Planning Officers in the Urban Development Authority (UDA), Planning and Technical Officers of the Ratnapura Municipal Council and Balangoda Urban Councils and Disaster Management Officers in the District and Divisional Secretariats of Ratnapura and Balangoda.
The workshops comprised of theoretical and practical sessions on Geographic Information Systems/ Remote Sensing (GIS/RS) applications involving planning and disaster management. Cartography using ArcGIS software package, practical usage of Global Position Systems (GPS) and Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) were used to enhance the capacity of the participants. The University of Moratuwa played a vital role providing technical knowledge and facilitated the workshop as the main technical partner of the project.
The participants found the training modules extremely useful for their work and provided positive feedback on the workshop. Ms. Sandhya Bambaranda, GIS/RS Associate from the Urban Development Authority stated ‘The GIS training was very helpful for my work especially to prepare maps and develop databases in urban planning activities’. Mr. Asitha Ariyarathana, Assistant Director Planning of the Divisional Secretariat Division (DSD) in Balangoda stated that ‘This training would be very useful when implementing programmes such as ‘Gemidiriya’, ‘Divinaguma’ and ‘Maganaguma’ for allocating resources to different Grama Niladari divisions and for monitoring progress”.
As the next step of this programme, another five day residential training programme will be held to train Local Government Officials of Batticaloa and Kalmuani in April, 2013. The project ‘Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities’ is funded by the Government of Australia and is implemented by UN-Habitat, in collaboration with the University of Moratuwa, Ministry of Disaster Management, Urban Development Authority and Local Authorities in the cities of Ratnapura, Balangoda, Batticaloa and Kalmunai.