Some 70% of Sri Lanka’s urban population and 80% of its economic infrastructure networks are concentrated in coastal cities which are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, climate experts said.
The experts say that climate change increases the country’s vulnerability to the rising of the sea-level, flooding, salination of water resources, storms, cyclones and drought. This view was expressed by experts at a workshop on Climate Resilient Action Plans for Coastal Urban Areas, a project to develop Batticaloa, Negombo and other coastal cities in Sri Lanka.
Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa addressing that event said Sri Lanka was vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels and that the highly populated and urbanised coastal zone of the country will be directly affected by rising sea levels.
“Sea level rise will impact human habitation, tourism infrastructure, livelihoods, agriculture through inundation of cultivable lands and increased salinity in fresh water bodies and public utilities such as drinking water sources. Therefore urgent action is needed to enhance the resilience of the country in this regard,” the Minister said.
Prof. P. K. S. Mahanama, Dean, Faculty of Architecture of the University of Moratuwa said that the coastal cities of Batticaloa and Negombo have been particularly vulnerable to climate related natural disasters during the last few decades.
He said that in the last 100 years Batticaloa had experienced floods between 2009-2010. “This resulted in the loss of property and life while significantly damaging the coastal tourism industry. Some 15-20% of the population in the Batticoloa and Negombo Municipal Councils are vulnerable to the rising of the sea-level in 2040,” he said.
According to UN-HABITAT these impacts affect the urban poor. In the past 40 years daily temperature has increased from 0.4 to 0.5 Celsius. They said there has also been an increase in rainfall and minor floods.
The Batticaloa Municipal Council recorded an increase of 28% and a 34% increase in the Negombo Municipal Council.
The project was initiated by the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA), University of Moratuwa, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), the Batticaloa Municipal Council (BMC), the Negombo Municipal Council (NMC) and the Environment Ministry. (Olindhi Jayasundere)