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Forest-based Landslide Risk Management in Sri Lanka

CHALLENGE

Sri Lanka is highly vulnerable to natural hazards, including floods, droughts, and landslides, which are exacerbated by population growth, urbanization, uncontrolled land-use change, and deforestation. The World Bank is implementing several programs to improve the government’s resilience to such natural risks. Notably, the Climate Resilience Improvement Project (CRIP) aims to reduce the immediate physical risks, such as by stabilizing hillsides with concrete, nets and drainage pipes, and to improve the understanding of disaster risks so that future investments are effectively targeted. Under CRIP-II (in preparation), basin investment plans will be developed and published on an online platform and co-financed by the Bank and other donors. There is also an ongoing technical assistance (TA) program that is supporting the National Building Research Organization (NBRO), the main organization responsible for landslide risk management in the country, on assessing landslide hazard and exposure and analyzing mitigation measures.

Even though it is recognized that deforestation and uncontrolled land-use change contribute significantly to landslide risks, forest-based solutions are generally not applied in Sri Lanka because of the government’s limited experience and expertise in such solutions. Therefore, to ensure the best results of the programs being invested in Sri Lanka, PROFOR’s activity seeks to build the NBRO’s capacity to understand and apply forest-based solutions.

APPROACH

This activity will support the Government of Sri Lanka in piloting and potentially scaling-up the use of forest-based solutions for landslide risk management, through the following tasks and outputs:

  1. Development of a capacity building program for NBRO to understand and apply forest-based solutions to mitigate landslide risk in selected regions of Sri Lanka. This will include a training (and the production of relevant training materials); a study tour; and a South-South knowledge exchange.  
  2. Assessment of legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks for the application of forest-based solutions for landslide risk management in Sri Lanka. This assessment will result in the identification of opportunities and possible bottlenecks.
  3. Development of a comprehensive forest-based landslide risk management plan for 1-2 selected areas. 
  4. Preparation of a guidance document on the potential use of forest-based solutions for landslide risk management in developing countries.

The above activities will leverage the lessons learned from and connect to the ongoing World Bank projects: CRIP, CRIPII (in preparation), and the TA on landslide risk management in order to contribute to the overall disaster risk management investment planning in Sri Lanka. The activity will also be linked to the PROFOR-funded Global Knowledge Management Program on Forest and Disaster Risk Management.

RESULTS

This activity is ongoing. It started on March 26, 2018 and is expected to be completed by June 28, 2019. 

A national workshop on existing policy, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for landslides risk mitigation was held in Colombo on September 28, 2018 to share the findings of the policy review. The review was well received by all the stakeholders and participants included all the relevant agencies. 

One of the key findings of this study was to identify the laws, regulations and policies related to protection and conservation of the natural environmental resources in Sri Lanka that are relevant to Nature Based Solutions.

The study also revealed that most of these laws, regulations and policies connect to overlapping responsibilities and approaches to address the issues of environmental protection and conservation. Some of the prominent policies in this regard are National Policy on Watershed Management, National Land Use Policy, National Forest Policy, and National Environment Policy. The positive aspect of overlapping policies is that, they help to create an enabling environment for promoting application of nature-based solutions to protect and conserve the natural environmental resources. It will be easy to promote nature-based solutions in Sri Lanka because several government institutions are working with similar or parallel objectives and mandates.

A comprehensive report has been prepared providing recommendations for revision of existing policies, introduction of new policies, organizational strengthening, capacity building, and improving inter-agency coordination at national and sub-national levels.  This will help future action towards addressing gaps and strengthening policy, regulations, procedures, and institutional and legal set-up for landslide risk management.

The team identified sites that are prone to landslides and sites where landslides have already happened. Possible sites for applying Forest-based Landslide Risk Management interventions were inspected during the field visit and the team identified potential pilot sites. Two sites, Badulusirigama and Galaboda-Ratnapura were selected and the fieldwork is planned.

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Last Updated : 03-11-2019

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