Living with landslide risks: A case of resistance to relocation among vulnerable households residing in the Kegalle district of Sri Lanka

K. L.W.I. Gunathilake, P. P.G. Jayathilake, Nishara Fernando, Naduni Jayasinghe, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Landslides are fatal climate-induced natural disasters that leave more people homeless than any other calamity in Sri Lanka. Relocation is a frequently adopted policy initiative led by the government and related authorities in post-disaster reconstruction in Sri Lanka. The hesitancy of most vulnerable communities to relocate to new places has rendered relocation efforts difficult to execute and unsatisfactory. The current study was carried out using a purposively drawn sample of 21 residents who have refused to move away from their current place of residence following the Samasarakanda landslide which struck the area of Aranayaka in 2016. The main objective of this study is to provide an in-depth overview of their reluctance to relocate and suggest measures to strengthen policy planning measures associated with the relocation of vulnerable communities. Primary data collection was carried out using a questionnaire survey, and data were analyzed through the integrative use of Microsoft Excel, SPSS, and Arc GIS 10.5 analytical tools. The study revealed that 33% of the dwellers have wholly refused to relocate, while 66% have a partial willingness to cooperate with the process in the future. The respondents who ultimately declined to relocate have highlighted their lack of trust in government provisions (53%), insufficient financial support (73.7%), and the barriers to income gains through self-employment (38%) as the main reasons to refuse the process. The study further revealed lack of education among the dwellers, where the majority (80%) have not completed their secondary education, as one of the main reasons for a lack of understanding about the long-term benefits of relocation. Further, 24% of the informants had a clear idea about disaster risk reduction pre-preparation plans, whereas most (76%) had no idea about disaster management plans. According to the findings of the study, policy planning associated with relocation should be aligned more with better coordination of socioeconomic and cultural requirements of the dwellers. A balanced framework of rational decision-making on resettlement alternatives and options, safety assessment, accessibility to existing public and social infrastructure and livelihood opportunities, community involvement in house designing, and consideration of socio-cultural values of the affected communities are urgent necessities in Sri Lanka with regard to the design and execution of natural disaster-induced relocation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRebuilding Communities After Displacement
Subtitle of host publicationSustainable and Resilience Approaches
EditorsMo Hamza, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh, Chamindi Malalgoda, Chathuranganee Jayakody, Anuradha Senanayake
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031214141
ISBN (Print)9783031214134, 9783031214165
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023


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