March 2014, Akkaraipattu, Sri Lanka: The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in collaboration with the Akkaraipattu Municipal Council, officially opened the Disaster Resilient Urban Planning and Development Unit at the Akkaraipattu Municipal Council premises on 13 March 2014.The establishment of the Disaster Resilient Urban Planning and Development Units is a key component of the project “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Four Cities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka (Phase II)” funded by the Government of Australia.
The Unit was opened by the Hon. Mayor of Akkaraipattu Municipal Council, Mr. A. Ahamed Zakie and the UN-Habitat National Project Manager for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), Plnr. Indu Weerasoori. Over fifty people attended the opening ceremony including Hon. Members of the Council, the Municipal Commissioner and other senior Government and Local Authority officers. Representatives from Community Based Organizations also participated at the event.
The Unit is responsible for the implementation of the Akkaraipattu Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness Plan, for providing technical and financial support for disaster risk reduction, preparedness, mitigation, response and management activities in the Municipal Council area, and for raising community awareness and providing access to information on disaster resilient technologies. The Unit’s staff members are responsible for the supervision and monitoring of the implementation of the disaster risk reduction project at Meera Odai (water retention pond), a highly flood prone area. The staff will work closely with both the Technical Working Group established by the Project and with national agencies engaged in disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
At the opening ceremony, the Hon. Mayor stated “We have a clear vision to make our city disaster resilient, healthy and sustainable. We have closely observed global concepts on resilient city development initiatives. As a result, we established a budget line for DRR activities in 2010. I hope that through this programme, we will be able to make Akkaraipattu a safer and more sustainable city. I am very grateful to the Government of Australia, UN-Habitat and other project partners for their support to make this a reality.” Plnr. Indu Weerasoori, emphasized the responsibility of Local Authorities in making cities resilient and sustainable. She thanked the Akkaraipattu Municipal Council for supporting the project and for showing keen interest in working with the project partners.
The project “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Four Cities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka (Phase II)” is being implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the Urban Development Authority, Ministry of Disaster Management, University of Moratuwa and the Local Authorities of Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Akkaraipattu.