Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction

17 Jun 2011

A training programme on “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Housing Sector of Northern Province” was held in Vavuniya on June 3, 2011 in Vavuniya. A two day programme, this was part of a series of training programmes focused on diverse aspects relating to disaster resistant housing construction in the Northern Province conducted by the Disaster Management Centre in collaboration with UNDP Disaster Risk Management programme and the UNDP Transition Recovery Programme (TRP).
The training programme was conducted for 50 technical officers and field engineers of government as well as non-government organizations involved in the Northern Province resettlement projects. The programme focused on issues such as identification of suitable land for construction purposes considering disaster risks, land uses recommended by the National Physical Planning Policy, roles and responsibilities of local authorities in approving disaster resistant housing construction and adaptation of type plans for housing in hazard prone areas.
The involvement of officials of TRP, a key infrastructure development practitioner in the Northern Province, was seen as strengthening the programme’s approach and shedding new light on development in the province.

The previous training programmes conducted have achieved much success. Officials who had participated in these programmes are now including Disaster Risk Reduction components in their work. For example, engineers from the UNDP Transition Recovery Programme (TRP) have designed disaster resistant type plans for their housing constructions, and are now using these in their development projects. Also trainees such as Eng. K. Rajkumar, shared the knowledge they gained through the previous training programmes with colleagues constructing houses in Northern Province secure from disasters. Expressing his thoughts on the training, Rajkumar stated, “We always tend to think of low cost construction without considering the disaster damage or worse the cost of losing life. This training made us think about how best to incorporate the disaster resistant aspects while planning our construction work.”

The Northern Province is prone to disasters such as floods, cyclones, drought, lightning and coastal hazards including the tsunami. Improper building construction is one of the prime reasons for death and economic losses during a disaster. Therefore, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), in collaboration with the UNDP – Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Programme, through a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) finalised building guidelines best suited for Sri Lanka and developed type plans for schools and hospital buildings resistant to different hazard conditions. With the Government accelerating infrastructure development in the Northern Province under the “Uthuru Wasanthaya (Northern Spring)” initiative, these training programmes are a timely intervention.