LIVING WITH FLOODS: PROFESSIONAL ADVOCACY vis-à-vis TRADITIONAL WISDOM IN RATHNAPURA CITY, SRI LANKA
Rathnapura city is located in a deep valley where two rivers converge. It experiences serious flooding during the monsoon period. The city center and most of the suburbs succumb to flooding at least twice a year. During early 1980s, the new town of Rathnapura was established 5 km away from the old city center in an attempt to relocate the city at a safer place. People were advised to relocate their houses and businesses in the new town. Although most of the government establishments were relocated there during the last 40 years, the new town lacks life and character due to the lack of a residential population. People prefer to live in their traditional homelands in the old city instead of relocating in the new town. They do not mind the recurrent flooding problem due to several reasons. The most prominent among them is the cultural practices and livelihoods that are deep rooted in specific places of the old city. They do not like to abandon these customary places and relocate in new places for the sake of safety. Due to the social resistance, the local government has reluctantly adapted the “living with floods” policy for development planning in Rathnapura. This paper inquires the tussle between traditional wisdom and professional advocacy when dealing with the urban development agenda of Rathnapura City. It also examines the traditionally practiced and professionally advocated building construction methods in the study area. Stakeholder consultation survey and a field survey were conducted by the first authour’s team as a prelude to develop an urban design scheme and building construction strategy for the core areas of the city. This scheme recognizes people’s place making process and adapts an enabling role despite shortcomings on the safety front. This stance may go well with the local people but not necessarily with the project proponents, financiers and urban managers.
Cuny, F.C. (1991). Living with floods: Alternatives for riverine flood mitigation, Land Use Policy, 8(4):331-342.
DMC (2012a). Hazard Profile of Sri Lanka, Colombo: Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs and Disaster Management.
DMC (2012b). Guideline for constructions in Flood prone areas (SLUMDMP), Colombo: Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs and Disaster Management.
Hasaan, M.H.M. (2020). Research on Building in Flood-prone areas of Rathnapura, an unpublished Essay submitted to Liverpool John Moores University.
Henarangoda, C.M. (2020). A Research on Architectural Strategies Used to Mitigate Flood Hazard in the Dwellings of Rathnapura City, an unpublished Essay submitted to Liverpool John Moores University.
Khailani, D.K. & Perera, R. (2013). Mainstreaming disaster resilience attributes in local development plans for the adaptation to climate change induced flooding: A study based on the local plan of Shah Alam City, Malaysia, Land Use Policy, 30(1):615-627.
NBRO (2015). Hazard resilient housing construction manual, Colombo: National Building Research Organization.
Permana, A.S. & Petchasasithon, A. (2021). Low-risk engineering adaptation strategies to climate change impacts at individual level in urban areas: A developing country’s viewpoints (mimeo).
UDA (2019). Rathnapura Development Plan 2019-2030 – Volume 1, Colombo: Urban Development Authority.
UDA (2019). Rathnapura Development Plan 2019-2030 – Volume 2, Colombo: Urban Development Authority.
Wenger, C., Hussey, K. & Pittock, J. (2013). Living with floods: Key lessons from Australia and abroad, Gold Coast: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility.
Wijegunarathna, E.E., Wedawatta, G., Prasanna, L.J., Ingirige, B. (2018). Long term satisfaction of resettled communities: An assessment of physical performance of post-disaster housing, Procedia Engineering, 212(2018):1147-1154.
The article published and information contained in this journal such as text, graphics, logos and images is copyrighted by and proprietary to the National Research Council of Thailand.
The article will be published under a CC-BY-NC-ND license (https://creativecommons.org). This license means that anyone may freely read, download, distribute and make the article available to the public (in printed and electronic form), provided that the author and the journal as the source are acknowledged, whereas no commercial use is allowed and the work may not be altered, transformed or serve as the basis for a derivative work.