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Coastal Cities Under Threat of Climate Change

by Olindhi Jayasundere, Daily Mirror, Colombo, November 6, 2011

He said Batticaloa recently experienced its biggest floods in the last 100 years...

NIV International Projects, Director Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera said that 70 per cent of the Sri Lanka’s urban population and 80 per cent of its economic infrastructure networks are concentrated in coastal cities which are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, salination, of water resources, storm surges, cyclones and droughts.

ADB National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2011-2016

Between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the total populations of the Negombo and Batticaloa Municipal Councils are vulnerable to sea level rise in 2040, a study by the University of Moratuwa, has estimated.

Speaking at the initiation of a pilot project titled ‘Climate Resilient Action Plan for Coastal Urban Areas, Sri Lanka (CCSL)’, Moratuwa University, Architecture Facility, Dean Prof. P. K. S. Mahanama, said that Batticaloa and Negombo have been vulnerable to climate related natural disasters during the last few decades and particularly in 2000.

He said Batticaloa recently experienced its biggest floods in the last 100 years.

During December 2009 – January 2010 heavy rains resulted in loss of life and property while significantly damaging the emerging coastal tourism industry."Frequently increasing storm surges have also resulted in significant losses to livelihoods in both Batticaloa and Negombo," he added.

Environment Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the project would be a momentous initiative to implement the adaptation measures in the coastal zone. The project would establish multipurpose green belts to protect lagoons and coastal areas, restore mangrove ecosystem and the coastal biodiversity.

The process and lessons learnt would be replicated in other coastal cities while climate change resilient approaches would be included in the urban planning and budgetary frameworks, the Minister said.

Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Hilde Haraldstad, said that the Norwegian Government would support Sri Lanka on research, development and technology for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIV) together with its national partners – University of Moratuwa, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Batticaloa and Negombo initiated the project.

NIV International Projects, Director Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera said that 70 per cent of the Sri Lanka’s urban population and 80 per cent of its economic infrastructure networks are concentrated in coastal cities which are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea level rise, flooding, salination, of water resources, storm surges, cyclones and droughts.