UN-Habitat Launches Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Preparedness Plans for the Cities of Balangoda, Batticaloa, Ratnapura and Kalmunai

21 October 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in partnership with the Municipal Councils of Ratnapura, Batticaloa and Kalmunai and the Urban Council of Balangoda officially launched the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Preparedness Plans for each City at the BMICH in Colombo today. The four DRR and Preparedness Plans have been developed by the project “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities”, with funding from the Government of Australia.

The DRR and Preparedness Plans themed “Towards a Sustainable and Resilient City” were ceremonially handed over to the Chief Guest, Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Disaster Management, and the Guest of Honour, H.E. Robyn Mudie, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka by UN-Habitat and the Commissioner of Ratnapura, the Vice-Chairman of Balangoda, the Municipal Commissioner of Batticaloa and the Mayor of Kalmunai.

Mrs. M.S.Mohomad, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management, Prof.P.K.S.Mahanama, Dean, Faculty of Architecture, University of Moratuwa, Mr Nimal Perera, Chairman, Urban Development Authority and Mr.Laxman Perera, UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager for Sri Lanka were present at the official launch.

The Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for Sri Lankan Cities project was implemented by UN-Habitat from March 2012 to March 2013. The main aim of the Project is to establish sustainable, disaster resilient and healthy cities and townships in disaster prone regions of Sri Lanka. The DRR and Preparedness Plans are an integral tool for city authorities in meeting this objective.

The project has been implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the University of Moratuwa, Urban Development Authority, Disaster Management Centre, National Building Research Organisation and four Local Authorities and communities of Kalmunai Municipal Council (MC), Ratnapura MC, Batticaloa MC and Balangoda Urban Council.

The Disaster Risk Reduction and Preparedness Plans for the four cities identify disaster risk reduction strategies for each city. The Plans have been prepared by conducting a comprehensive analysis of background information which includes baseline assessments, technical studies incorporating findings of vulnerability and risk assessments through stakeholder consultation.

The DRR and Preparedness Plan is an application of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), a tool that focuses on resilient city development. Fundamentals of the Plan and proposed projects are aligned with priorities for action from the HFA to establish the four cities as role model resilient cities in Sri Lanka.

Following the successful completion of the programme in Ratnapura, Balangoda, Batticaloa and Kalmunai, the Australian Government is providing additional funding for the initiative to be replicated in the cities of Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Mannar and Akkaraipattu from 2013 – 2014. UN-Habitat is now implementing the second phase of the project in the above cities in collaboration with the Local Authorities and project partners.