Creating a disaster resilient built environment in urban cities: The role of local governments in Sri Lanka

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– The purpose of this paper is to explore the role and challenges for Sri Lankan local governments in creating a disaster resilient built environment within urban Sri Lankan cities.

– The paper is based on a literature review and a case study conducted in the Batticaloa city of Sri Lanka, supported by expert interviews among local and other government officials, policy makers, practitioners and academics who are engaged in disaster management and urban planning within the country.

– The literature and empirical data reveal that local governments are facing a number of challenges in contributing to making cities resilient to disasters. Some of the issues that have emerged are inadequate financial and human resource capabilities; a lack of knowledge of disaster risks and vulnerabilities; the need for long‐term political commitment; a lack of focus on pre‐disaster planning; inadequate legislative authority; a lack of clear cut responsibilities and coordination among agencies; and a lack of involvement in major development activities, physical planning and regulation of land use. It is important to address these challenges faced by local governments in creating a disaster resilient built environment in a holistic manner to ensure effective disaster risk reduction within cities.

Research limitations/implications
– The paper is based on partial findings of research which aims to explore and propose mechanisms to empower the Sri Lankan local governments to make cities more resilient to disasters, within the context of the built environment.

– The paper identifies the weaknesses of the current institutional arrangements in place for creating a disaster resilient built environment in Sri Lanka and highlights the challenges faced by a local government in creating a disaster resilient built environment within a Sri Lankan city.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-94
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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