3 Case Studies From the Colombo Core-Area, Sri Lanka

Three community based and community participated demonstration projects illustrate how sustainable urbanization can be achieved through community participation and commitment.

Controlling the Spread of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

In probably the largest community mobilization and participation effort by Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), the first ever mosquito breeding site elimination project was launched to counter attack the fast spreading and deadly Dengue (DHF) epidemic. A sense of competitiveness among was created by an environmentally friendly "Green Star Home" sticker being issued to houses which met all 6 pre-determined criteria for preventing the spread of DHF.

300 Staff of the CMC including Doctors, Nurses, Midwives, labourers and public health volunteers and members of Leo Clubs as well as school children contributed toward its success.

In its first phase 45,410 households were checked with 10,316 criteria compliant houses and institutions receiving the sticker. 401 legal cases were filed against non-compliant houses under the Mosquito Bourne Diseases Regulations of the City.

The suspected DHF cases reported during the monsoon period had come down from 80 cases in July to 0 cases in November 2001. A Working Group consisting all stakeholder representatives monitor progress and continue to strategize future steps of this participatory approach.

Promoting Solid Waste Management Through Micro Enterprises

The Badowita settlement consisting of 1400 families, resettled from the banks of Colombo's large canal network, grabbed the attention of the Dehiwela Mount Lavinia Municipal Council.

The community, through its strong Federation of CBOs was able to mobilize support from the Urban Settlements Improvement Project and the Sri Land Reclamation and Development Corporation of the Ministry of Housing, the JICA volunteer programme, NGO Sevanatha and the Sustainable Sri Lankan Cities Programme to make this participatory approach a reality as well as a success.

A Working Group represented by the above stakeholders developed a strategy and action plan to manage the solid waste generated in the settlement. The waste collection center, set up subsequently, is now managed and operated by the Community's Federation of CBOs as an income generating activity with a percentage of profits from the resale of recyclable items going towards community development projects. The Federation has now earned SLRs. 16,000 (US$ 175.00) during the period between November 2001 and March 2002 and now boast of a litter free internal road network and a garbage free canal.

Bio-gas From Market Waste

In the Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte Municipal Council area 12% of the solid waste is generated from 6 markets spread across the Municipal limits.

The Vajira Children's Home in Kotte, supports and educates 300 orphan children from the war torn northern and eastern regions of the Island nation.

The Chief Incumbent of the temple, on whose land the orphanage is constructed on, is also the Guardian of the Children. Leading by example he took a keen interest in mobilizing the close knit community including teachers, care givers, kitchen staff and labourers, along with the children to make this demonstration project a success.

The Working Group formed at the Community level included personnel from the Orphanage, the local authority, SCP partner NGO Sevanatha and the Project Support Team of the Sustainable Sri Lankan Cities Programme.

The bio-gas unit was operational for a period of 6 months from May 2001 to October 2001, and converted 8Mt. Tones of market waste in to energy used for cooking purposes. The saving is estimated to be SLRs. 30,000 (US$ 333.00) worth of Liquid Petroleum Gas which would have otherwise been purchased.

The bio gas plant is now being managed by the community at the orphanage and replication and up-scalling plans are underway.

UNDP and UN-HABITAT have been supporting the municipalities of Colombo Metropolitan area, through the Sustainable Sri Lankan Cities Programme since 1998.

Compiled by Swairee Rupasinghe, Project Officer, Sustainable Sri Lankan Cities Programme; Photographs courtesy Sevanatha and Colombo Municipal Council