Balangoda is a key administrative and commercial center in the region. The city is a significant commuter point for people using Colombo – Badulla (A4) main road and also a connective gateway between the rural regions of the surroundings.
Most inhabitants work in agriculture, gem mining and tea planting sectors. These sectors, however, also have a negative impact on the environmental sustainability of the city.
The Balangoda region is situated in the boundary between the Second Pen plain and the Third Pen plain in Sri Lanka. In Kalthota area, a very sharp boundary can be seen.The elevation of the uplands ranges from 270m to 1060m above sea level. An escarpment of over 100m high separates the lowland from the uplands, which can be seen continuously at Kaltota and Minipe.
The city has issues related to development like the increasing congestion of waste water problem, poverty and the highly increasing value of land. The city of Balangoda is a disaster prone area with high vulnerability to multiple disasters:
- Landslides and floods are the most prevalent with significant floods happening in April and November. Unstable steep slopes and fragile geological formation that cause a wide range of geological and hydro-meteorological disasters when there are heavy rainfalls.
- Forest fires, elephant attacks and snakebites happen in peripheral areas.
The city holds several awards as recognition for its efforts in waste management quality of services. Balangoda has implemented a good waste management system including composting, polythene/plastic recycling, recyclable waste collection, school waste management programs, night soil treatment, and a resilient city program.
Resilient City Programme Structure
The community decides what to do: the citizens establish the priorities. These bottom-up proposals get budget for implementation from the local government. People (and local government) are ready to act but central government and provincial government are not committed. The Council created a department with 8 staffs and an allocated budget of USD10k in 2013 that will increase in 2015.
The DRR Department has the responsibility to act: it’s a rapid action team.
For the Mayor, mitigation is a goal: During the monsoon rain there were landslides and floods that used to cause effects on population and services, but after mitigation actions there are disruptions of only 2h, specifically in economic activity. In conclusion, there are no important disasters anymore as the city invested in prevention measures.
- The city is not giving building permits in slopes of more than 30% (maximum permissible friction angle: 45%).
- They have mapped landslides in the area.
- They have channeled the river inside the city instead of the normal flows which results in causing floods (and brought Dengue).
- Balangoda propose to work with nature instead of the classical approach.
- The city wants to create a Training Centre.
Mapping and identifying critical areas.
Compulsory to get the prior approval of Building Research Organization for new building constructions. Maximum slope for excavating land is 45o: permits are not given for slopes > 30o.
Should reserve a buffer zone with suitable plants for new building constructions.
Introduce low cost lightning arrester systems E. Compulsory to install lightning arresters for all buildings more than 2 stores and Promote multi communication antenna towers
- House cleaning campaigns.
- City cleaning campaigns.
- Investigate and get legal actions against mosquito breeding places. Introduce a sticker system for identify dengue critical areas