Training Programme on Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction into Urban Planning and Development for Planning Officials in the North and East of Sri Lanka

16 December 2013, Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) in collaboration with Urban Development Authority (UDA) conducted a three day residential training programme on “Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) into Urban Planning and Development” for Urban Planning and Local Authority officials in the North and East of Sri Lanka in December 2013. This programme is one of the key outputs of the project “Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for four Cities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka” funded by the Government of Australia.

The training programme, held in Vavuniya from 8-10th December, enabled Planning Officials from the Northern and Eastern Offices of the UDA and Local Authority Officials from Mannar and Vavuniya Urban Councils, Maritimepattu Pradesh Sabha and Akkaraipattu Municipal Council to enhance their disaster resilient urban planning knowledge and improve capacity to identify urban issues. It also strengthened their understanding of urban planning and DRR tools and techniques.

The training comprised a series of lectures, workshops and practical exercises on spatial planning concepts, strategic directions and approaches to integrate DRR into urban planning, project implementation and appraisal methods, financial mechanism and community consultation tools in local planning. The culmination of the training programme was the presentation of group work by the participants which required critical analysis of proposed land uses alongside DRR, social, environmental and commercial considerations.

The feedback from the participants was extremely positive. Mr. Chandana Karunaratne, a Planning Officer from the Ampara District office of the UDA stated “This programme has enhanced my knowledge on how to integrate hazard prone areas into land use zoning and to identify preventative measures.” Mr. S. Jude, an official from Mannar Urban Council stated “This training is very useful in understanding the importance of urban planning and the application of DRR measures at the local level.”

As a follow up to the programme, a National Workshop will be held to further discuss, document and promote practical solutions to overcome the challenges faced by urban planners in designing and implementing settlement design and building guidelines.

The Disaster Resilient City Development Strategies for four Cities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka Project is being 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 Mannar, Vavuniya, Mullaitvu in the Northern Province and Akkaraipattu in the Eastern Province from 2013-2014. Funded by the Government of Australia, the project aims to establish sustainable disaster resilient and healthy cities and townships in disaster prone regions of Sri Lanka.