ECONOMYNEXT – A top Sri Lankan policymaker has advocated a good governance approach to preventing disasters in Sri Lanka, hit by successive floods, saying corruption among local politicians who approved unsuitable construction needed to be eliminated.
Harsha De Silva, Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs, said many homes that went under water in recent floods in Colombo and elsewhere did so because they had been built in unsuitable areas.
“Recent floods in the Greater Colombo area as well as in other cities in the south caused loss of life and damage to property,” he told the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management (A-PAD) International Symposium on “Urban Resilience: Building Inclusive and Competitive Cities amidst Disasters”.
“In a couple of hours we saw massive disasters. Why? Because houses had been built in places they ought not to have been built, like canal reservations and river banks.
De Silva said home owners had got approval from corrupt local government politicians who did so to win votes.
“We need to address the issue from a good governance point of view, and not only from a disaster management position,” De Silva said.
There was a need to introduce disincentives to prevent construction of buildings in places that are disaster prone, he said.
Providing more people disaster insurance was also important, De Silva said.
“We need to not only prepare for post-disaster insurance but prevent probability of people being subject to disaster.”