Promotion of Disaster Mitigation in Sri Lanka by wpm87015


									                                                                                                                Public awareness                           Sri Lanka

                                                                                                                Asian Urban Disaster Mitigation Program

 C a s e              s t u d i e s                     o n
                                                              m i t i g a t i n g
                                                                                    d i s a s t e r s    i n     A s i a     a n d      t h e      P a c i f i c

                              Promotion of Disaster Mitigation in Sri Lanka
                  Piloting disaster risk communication through empirical approach

S    ri Lanka, like other developing countries, is striving for social and
     economic growth and advancement. Though threatened with several
types of natural hazards due to its geographical characteristics as well as
some destructive man-made activities, the understanding of risk and risk
reduction remains a low priority to most people. While disaster risk is
heightening due to rapid urbanization, Sri Lanka’s disaster management
system does not seem to respond to this intimidating fact. According to
the USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance database, between 1990
and 2001, Sri Lanka experienced 35 disaster events in which more than 5
million people were affected, resulting in huge economic losses. In a society
where an increasing amount of information – commercial as well as non-                                               Abstract
commercial – competes for individuals’ attention, how can the disaster
risk issue be communicated to people? How can people be motivated to                                                 This case study encapsulates
                                                                                                                     processes, experiences and lessons
take action before disaster strikes? This case study provides some
                                                                                                                     learned during disaster risk
examples.                                                                                                            communication initiatives implemented
                                                                                                                     under the Sri Lanka Urban Multi-
Introduction                                                                                                         Hazard Disaster Mitigation Project

S   ri Lanka is situated in the Indian Ocean with a population of nearly 20 million,
    with high concentration in the southwest region. Its population predominantly
consists of three ethnic groups – Sinhalese (74%), Sri Lanka Tamils (13%) and
                                                                                                                     As important as scientifically analyzing
                                                                                                                     disaster risks, communicating
                                                                                                                     information to those who may be at risk
others (13%) such as Muslims and Indian Tamils. The official languages are                                           – as well as other relevant groups – is
Sinhala and Tamil.                                                                                                   a challenging task that requires
                                                                                                                     strategic planning and creative skills.
India                The country is imperiled by many types of natural hazards. Hydro-                               SLUMDMP piloted several public
                     meteorological related disasters such as floods, landslides, cyclones                           awareness-raising activities and
                          and land subsidence are the primary hazards.                                               succeeded in placing disaster
                                                                                                                     mitigation on the public agenda.
          Jaffna •
                                     The level of exposure to hazardous events has increased
                                                                                                                     The study looks at SLUMDMP’s
                                        with expanding population and unplanned urbanization.
                                                                                                                     experiences in planning and
                                          Demand for urban land for residential and commercial                       developing its communication
  Mannar •                                  activities has made it a scarce commodity. Urban                         campaign,      the     modes       of
                               • Vavuniya     poverty seems to compel the poorer sectors of the                      communication it used to convey the
                              Trincomalee •    population to occupy marginalized hazard-prone                        message of disaster mitigation to its
                                                 land. This creates vulnerable urban communities.                    target population and the rationale
                                                                                                                     behind each mode. Lessons learned
             •Puttalam          Polonnaruwa                   Sri Lanka’s high vulnerability to disaster had         and recommendations are provided to
                                       Batticaloa •              not been well-addressed and accommodated            enhance the effectiveness of disaster
                                                                                                                     risk communication.
                                                                 since an effective disaster risk
          Kurunegala •
                                   • Kandy                        management system was not in place.
                                                                                                                     The inside story
                                                                  According to a paper written by a disaster
                                                                  manager from Sri Lanka’s National                        Highlight 1: Designing SLUMDMP, p.2
                                                                 Building Research Organization in 2000,                   Highlight 2: Gaining initial access, p.3
 Indian                  Sri Lanka                              urban planning has evidently failed to                     Highlight 3: Planning and
                                                                                                                           implementation of communication
 Ocean                                                         incorporate       risk-based      mitigation                activities, p.4
                           Hambantuta •                       approaches. Many local authorities had                       Highlight 4: Beyond conventional
                                                              neither regulations nor restrictions to control              public awareness methodologies, p.5
source:         development in hazard-prone areas. Even in
                                                                                                                                                       October 2003
the face of emergencies, timely               in order to evaluate the risks faced, and   infrastructure, lifeline facilities and
coordination with relevant                    to decide what necessary actions to         shelter in Sri Lanka.
organizations and personnel did not           take. Communities need to understand
take place. Long-term disaster                the hazards they may face.                  There were several national partners
mitigation and preparedness is not on         Governments also have both moral and        in this endeavor. The lead role was
the government’s agenda.                      statutory obligations to communicate        taken by the Center for Housing,
                                              information on risks to their               Planning and Building (CHPB), a
One possible reason for this state of         populations. With information comes         training and research organization
affairs could be the lack of public           increased awareness that can result in      specializing in housing and building,
awareness and education about                 a greater likelihood of people adopting     under the Ministry of Housing and
existing hazards and the various              appropriate mitigation measures.            Plantation Infrastructure. Technical
protective measures available. Often,                                                     support was provided by the National
even though information was available,        The then Ministry of Housing and            Building Research Organization (NBRO),
it unfortunately was not “packaged” and       Urban Development (presently the            a research organization with expertise
“channeled” properly and consequently,        Ministry of Housing and Plantation          in landslide studies and services, human
failed to motivate the target population      Infrastructure) recognized these            settlements development,
to take appropriate protective action.        limitations in the system as well as the    environmental management and
This is the disaster preparedness             need for improvement of disaster            structural engineering; and the national
scenario in many developing countries         management procedures, and                  Urban Development Authority (UDA),
and is not unique to only Sri Lanka.          cooperated in the establishment of the      the main agency responsible for urban
                                              Sri Lanka Urban Multi-Hazard Disaster       planning in Sri Lanka.
Reaching out                                  Mitigation Project (SLUMDMP) in 1997.
                                              This was part of the Asian Disaster         This case study captures the
Communicating risk information can            Preparedness Center’s (ADPC) Asian          processes, experiences and lessons
lead to substantial improvements in           Urban Disaster Mitigation Program           learned through disaster risk
public response to hazards. In a              (AUDMP). The project aims to reduce         communication initiatives on natural
practical sense, individuals and              natural-disaster vulnerability of the       hazards implemented under the
policymakers need hazard information          urban population and improve                SLUMDMP.

Highlight 1: Designing SLUMDMP

A     t the time of commissioning
      SLUMDMP, disaster management
in Sri Lanka concentrated heavily on
                                                                                                              Ratnapura district, west
                                                                                                                   of Colombo, is very
                                                                                                              susceptible to a number
relief and recovery. Relief assistance                                                                           of hazards, including
was usually provided after disasters                                                                        flooding and landslide. In
                                                                                                                 May 2003, it suffered
struck. Over the last decade, the cost
                                                                                                                  from the worst flash
of disaster relief has grown significantly,                                                                   floods and mudslides in
according to data provided by the                                                                                decades. The picture
Department of Social Service. For                                                                             shows aerial view of the
                                                                                                            flood-stricken Ratnapura.
instance, the expenditure on relief
assistance for flood and cyclone from
1993 to 1997 rose substantially – from        planners in integrating natural-hazard      Four target population categories
approximately 1.5 million Sri Lankan          risk assessment and mitigation              identified
Rupees (about USD15,700) to over              measures into the integrated
SLRs.18 million (about USD90,000)             development planning process and in         Prior to beginning its disaster risk
and from SLRs.700,000 (about                  emergency management planning.              communication campaign, SLUMDMP
USD7,300) to over SLRs.2.5 million                                                        conducted a rapid study to assess
(about USD 26,000), respectively.             The project was piloted in the flood-       needs and identify characteristics of
                                              prone Ratnapura Municipal Council           people in the community. Besides this,
To cope with this growing problem, the        due to its long history of disaster         it already had data as a result of
concept of mitigation – focused on            frequency. Good disaster mitigation         previous interactions with the
being proactive in reducing the               practices from the demonstration            community conducted by the project’s
potential for losses before a disaster        project have been replicated in other       three implementing partners. Based on
event occurs – was introduced and             selected disaster-prone cities, namely      the study, SLUMDMP’s communication
encouraged. Developed in accordance           Nawalapitiya, Kandy, Colombo and            strategies were placed in a broad
with the notion of disaster mitigation,       cities along the Kelani river from          perspective with a view to
SLUMDMP’s main objective is to assist         Colombo to Avissawella.                     accommodate the following categories:

People vulnerable to natural disasters within the
project areas                                             DEFINITION: Public awareness, Risk communication

People involved in commercial activities related
to disasters
                                                         Most people tend to accept public awareness and risk communication to mean the same.
                                                         However, experts tend to make a subtle distinction between the two.

People involved in policy-making and
development work implementation

People involved in training, education and
                                                         Risk communication has been defined as “a process through which purposeful exchange of
                                                         information about health or environmental risks to the public takes place for the ability of citizens
                                                         to have substantial input into making informed decisions that affect their lives”.

dissemination of information                             Risk communication informs the public about the circumstances under which their health and
                                                         safety might be jeopardized; and advises them on what actions can be taken to reduce risk.

Based on this segmentation of target
                                                         Creating public awareness for disaster mitigation is a process through which people living in
population, disaster risk communication                  hazard-prone areas come to realize and understand that they live in areas of risk, know the
methodologies were later designed                        specific dangers that they are exposed to and the warnings that are issued, and know the
according to the different characteristics               appropriate action to be taken to protect their lives and minimize property damages (ADPC).”
and needs of each category.
                                                        Profile of Ratnapura Municipal Council
                                                        Ratnapura Municipal Council area in Ratnapura       occurred in 1979, 1984 and recently in May
                                                        district, capital of Sabaragamuwa province, west    2003.
                                                        of Colombo, consists of 15 wards and is highly
                                                        susceptible to a number of hazards such as         Ratnapura has a population of approximately
                                                        frequent flooding, landslides, soil erosion and    100,000 with a density of 330 people per square
                                                        land subsidence due to gem mining, pollution       kilometer (as of 1994), representing a diverse
                                                        and contamination of water supplies.               group of people. Of this, nearly 55,000 were
                                                                                                           classified as urban residents and the trend now
                                                        Annually, two major floods occur in Ratnapura leans toward increased urbanization.
                                                        – during May-June and September-October.
                                                        High rainfall and flooding of the Kalu river often Ratnapura is a major rubber cultivation district.
The flood water level during the recent flood           cause damage in the central business district The urban economy primarily relies on the gem
disaster in Ratnapura was more than one meter           as well as outlying areas. Large floods usually industry, textile industry, agriculture and services
high, leading to difficulties in commuting.             occur once in every 8 to 10 years. Big floods sector.

Highlight 2: Gaining initial access

A  synthesis of answers to a set of
   basic planning questions (see right
box) led to the identification
                                                         Planning a disaster risk communication campaign                                     questions
                                                                                                                                              to ask

                                                           How to motivate people in hazard-prone areas to learn about natural hazards when this is
of SLUMDMP’s approaches to                                 not a salient issue to many?
communicating risk.                                        How to make people understand the concept of disaster mitigation when they are used to
                                                           disaster relief assistance?
Winning political support is an essential                  How to motivate people to prepare ahead of time?
                                                           What are the appropriate methods and which media to use to convey such information to people?
pre-requisite to getting to the rest of the
target population. SLUMDMP thus
began conveying the message to                         awareness workshop programs to                         as the follow-up capacity building
people involved in policy-making and                   introduce the project and seek support.                program was the case of Mr. Asoka
implementation of development                                                                                 Jayawardene, the then Mayor of
activities, such as Municipal Councils’                One remarkable success of the                          Ratnapura Municipal Council. His
officers and politicians, through                      project’s awareness workshop as well                   personal experience of living with flood

    Safer Cities
    Safer Cities is a series of case studies that illustrate how people, communities, cities, governments and businesses have been able to make cities
    safer before disasters strike. The series presents strategies and approaches to urban disaster mitigation derived from analyses of real-life experiences,
    good practices and lessons learned in Asia and the Pacific. This user-friendly resource is designed to provide decision-makers, planners, city and
    community leaders and trainers with an array of proven ideas, tools, policy options and strategies for urban disaster mitigation. The key principles
    emphasized throughout Safer Cities are broad-based participation, partnerships, sustainability and replication of success stories.

    The contents here may be freely quoted with credit given to the implementing institution, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), and to the
    Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions expressed herein are those of
    the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADPC or USAID. The information in this series is provided for purposes of dissemination.
    For more details, please refer to the contacts listed at the end of this material. Publication of this case study was made possible through the support
    provided by the OFDA, USAID, under the terms of Cooperative Agreement No. 386-A-00-00-00068.

                                                                                                                                   Safer Cities 6, AUDMP        3
risk in Ratnapura raised his                                         A Disaster             Mr. Jayawardene’s support in disaster
awareness and readiness to                                            Management            mitigation has extended beyond
be involved in the project. “I was so                                 S t e e r i n g       Ratnapura. After joining the
                               h a p p y t o                          Committee             Sabaragamuwa Provincial Ministry of
“I was so happy to            e m b r a c e                           (DMSC) was            Local Government, Environment,
embrace SLUMDMP.             S L U M D M P. I t s                    established and        Youth Affairs and Sports as a
Its arrival into my office  arrival into my office                  chaired by the          Provincial Minister in charge with
                            was strange, but
was strange, but                                                 Mayor. The Municipal       environment management in June
timely“– it happened          -Asoka Jayawardene       Engineer Team was entrusted          1999, he took the initiative in
when I was in grave need        [former mayor of    with the task of coordinating           spreading SLUMDMP activities to the
of such a collaboration,” he       Ratnapura]      DMSC work under the supervision          whole province. He particularly
stated at the SLUMDMP’s                         of the Municipal Commissioner.              worked at incorporating disaster
introductory awareness workshop                Several structural and non-structural        mitigation as part of the development
held in Ratnapura. To create a                 mitigation activities were completed; for    policy and legal framework. With his
better environment conducive to                example, construction of a pedestrian        support, the Provincial Ministry
implementing disaster mitigation, Mr.          crossing across the Kalu river for           recognized the need for a provincial
Jayawardene decided to execute                 transportation of people and relief          policy for disaster mitigation as one
his power and authority to fully               assistance in times of flood and             of its priorities and incorporated it in
support implementation of SLUMDMP              relocation of a bus stop from a flood-       its Policy Statement.
activities.                                    prone area to higher ground.

Highlight 3: Planning and implementation of communication activites

P     olitical support from local
      authorities created a productive
environment for the project to work with
                                              Occupational-based customized
                                              workshop programs gains initial
                                              access to the community
                                                                                            group. For example, linguistic simplicity
                                                                                            and hands-on demonstrations were
                                                                                            carried out for an awareness workshop
other groups of the target population.                                                      for craftsmen. The workshop also
Owing to the success of awareness             As disaster mitigation was a new notion       provided participants with knowledge
workshops for politicians,                          with which few people were              on the different roles of each
SLUMDMP employed the same                                 familiar, SLUMDMP launched        occupation in mitigating disasters; for
methodology in disseminating tailored a series the concept through such                     instance, a small demonstration on how
the disaster mitigation                                      workshops. The objective       to build a water-resistant wall was
                                   of awareness
message to the rest of the workshops to different was to identify hazards                   presented to laborers and craftsmen.
target population. As a occupational groups to and introduce disaster
result, occupational-based ensure that the message mitigation as well as                    This series of occupational-customized
customized workshop was delivered effectively. appropriate technology                       awareness workshops proved to be an
programs were created for Topics and language that could be applied to                      effective initiative to penetrate different
people like environment w e r e a d j u s t e d a n d mitigate disasters by                 target population categories as well as
officers, land-use planners, tuned to match each using local knowledge and                  equip them with knowledge on disaster
                                   o c c u p a t i o n a l resources.
youth groups, forest fire-           g r o u p .
                                                                                            mitigation theory and practice.
fighters, religious leaders,                                                                Between 1998-2002, SLUMDMP
planners, craftsmen, surveyors,                       SLUMDMP tailored a series of          conducted more than 50 workshops in
lawyers, housewives, and others.              awareness workshops to different              this series, which reached more than
                                              occupational groups to ensure that the        1,500 people. Currently, these
To complement this, SLUMDMP produced          message was delivered effectively.            workshops are being conducted as part
several public awareness materials such       Topics and language were adjusted             of CHPB/SLUMDMP’s annual calendar
as brochures, leaflets and flyers.            and tuned to match each occupational          activity as well as on demand.

                                                                                            “Vipath Puwath” newsletter
                                                                                            spreads disaster mitigation news

                                                                                            Given the fact that the literacy rate in
                                                                                            Sri Lanka is relatively high (90.2%), a
                                                                                            newsletter published in Sinhala was
                                                                                            selected to disseminate news and
                                                                                            information on disaster mitigation in the
Apart from knowledge on disaster mitigation,   Occupational-based customized workshop was
hands-on demonstrations were carried out for   organized for religious leaders.             country. The free newsletter,”“Vipath
an awareness workshop for craftsmen.                                                        Puwath” (disaster news), is published

on a bi-monthly basis, highlighting          Hazard-specific leaflets and                       to read. Detailed
current information on disaster              booklets: local hazards segmented                  information on the
mitigation both in the country and in the                                                       same topic was to
region.                                      Different communities face different               be obtained from a
                                             disasters/hazards. Even in the same                set of four-volume
Vipath Puwath aims at all four               province, one community suffers from               pictorial landslide
categories of target population, ranging     flooding while another part of the town            booklets for those
from government officers, public sector,     experiences lightning disaster. Though             who wished to
NGO and CBO officials, school                both are rain-induced disasters,                   seek further                “Vipath Puwath”
communities and the business sector.         mitigation measures are different. As              information.                      newsletter
Each issue focuses on different themes       a result, SLUMDMP employed a                       Information provided
that have been identified by the             hazard-specific approach to reach                  was simplified so that it was easily
editorial team. There are two regular        target audiences in different areas,               accessible to different groups of
columns in each issue, namely the lead       producing various literature conveying             people. Colorful illustrations and
article and the editorial. The number of     information on different hazards.                  diagrams were also presented in order
pages in each issue depends on the                                                              to attract readers’ attention.
length of the lead feature.                                          A small four-
                                                                         p a g e                These leaflets and booklets were
Since the newsletter targets a                                           landslide              published in two languages, Sinhala
diverse group of people, difficult                                       leaflet                and Tamil, and were distributed among
technical terms sometimes                                               provides                the public and school communities
have to be avoided or clarified.                                        essential               vulnerable to different types of hazards.
Apart from regular subscribers,                                        knowledge                In addition, they were used for other
the newsletter is also distributed                                     suitable for             awareness programs conducted by
at workshops and training                                        those who do not               SLUMDMP.
conducted under SLUMDMP.                                         have much time

Highlight 4: Beyond conventional public awareness methodologies

S     LUDMP raised disaster mitigation
      awareness through conventional
educational communication
                                             educational style, the message was
                                             spelt out in an attention-catching
                                             technique that blended education and
                                                                                                are the people’s favorite type of TV

methodologies such as workshops and          entertainment.                              This 30-minute teledrama was targeted
distributing information material.                                                               at youngsters, mainly in the
Thereafter, a new challenge was faced        Based on a survey earlier         Based on a            demonstration project site,
                                                                            survey earlier
by SLUMDMP. “How else to further             conducted by a drugs-                                    Ratnapura Municipal
                                                                          conducted by a drugs-
enhance it in an interesting way.”           prevention oriented                                         Council, with secondary
                                                                        prevention oriented NGO
SLUMDMP creatively experimented              NGO on how people on how people wanted to be focus on the public in
with other methods by combining              wanted to be informed, informed, a soap opera was general. The message
education and entertainment together in      a soap opera was identified as a communication of “heeding disaster
the learning process, leading to two         i d e n t i f i e d a s a channel for this campaign warning” was merged
other effective awareness-fostering          c o m m u n i c a t i o n i n s t e a d o f a n o t h e r with romance, a subject
activities: production of a single-episode   channel for this            conventional information-       most youngsters are
teledrama at the demonstration project       campaign instead of           jammed documentary          interested in.
                                                                             on disaster
site targeted at young people vulnerable     another conventional
to disasters, and a school awareness         information-jammed                                  The teledrama was filmed in
program that specifically targeted the       documentary on disaster mitigation.         Ratnapura and was crafted to suit the
school community.                            The survey showed that soap operas          audience. To increase the credibility of

“Teaching, not preaching”                      Kumari’s Story: A teledrama

                                               The teledrama tells the story of Nimal, a young undergraduate student, betrothed to a lovely
A teledrama entitled “Of an Event              girl named “Kumari”, who also lives in Ratnapura. However, Kumari is forced by her uncle to
Foretold” or “Kumari’s Story” carried          marry a man who she does not love. After the wedding, she and her new family move to a
the campaign’s message of “heeding             house built on a slope prone to landslides. On one stormy night, Nimal anticipates a landslide
                                               in Kumari’s area and warns her of the impending danger. Though reluctant, Kumari finally
the warnings of disasters”. Rather than
                                               leaves for safer ground, and thus her life is saved.
presenting it in an information-laden

                                                                                                                     Safer Cities 6, AUDMP      5
                                                 this serious message,                               Disaster Safety Day
                                                 the production used                                 attracts huge participation
                                                 new actors and
                                                 actresses trained at the                              Instead of a conventional
                                                 National Youth Council                                 classroom, SLUMDMP, in
                                                 for Acting.                                            collaboration with the
                                                                                             Sabaragamuwa Province Chief
                                                 The teledrama was very successful in        Minister ’s Office and Ratnapura
                                                 sending the intended message. It was        Municipal Council, conducted Disaster
                                                 viewed by 500 schoolchildren on World       Safety Day (DSD) for the first time on
                                                 Habitat Day organized by the UN-            6 April 2001 in downtown Ratnapura.
                                                 HABITAT in October 1999. On 30
                                                 August 2000, it was telecast at             It aimed at
                                                 primetime on the Sri Lanka Rupavahini       p r o m o t i n g
                                                 Cooperation, the national broadcaster.      awareness in
                                                                                             d i s a s t e r
                                                 The funds required to meet the cost of      preparedness
                                                 airtime (SLRs. 64,000) were provided        and environment
                                                 by the Sri Lanka Insurance                  protection among
                                                 Corporation. A copy of the teledrama        school children
                                                 was also entered in the Adults              through learning-
                                                 Education Sector 2000 of the Japan          by-participation.
                                                 Prize Contest, organized by NHK             The event, held in
                                                 Japan Broadcasting Corporation,             memory of those
                                                 Tokyo. It was also screened at the first    who lost their lives during the 1993
                                                 Asian International Public Television       landslide disaster in Helauda,
                                                 (INPUT)/UNESCO Workshop for                 Ratnapura, saw more than 500 people
                                                 Creative Television held in Kathmandu,      joining the march to the Dharmapala
                                                 Nepal. Though it initially catered to       Maha Vidyalaya, where a program of
                                                 young people in Ratnapura, the              talks, performances and video viewing
                                                 teledrama continues to carry the            was arranged.
Celebration of Disaster Safety Day (DSD) in      message of “heed warnings of disaster”
Ratnapura, held in memory of those who lost      to a wider audience as a part of            Before the event, SLUMDMP also
their lives during the landslide in Helauda,
Ratnapura in 1994, received huge interest
                                                 SLUMDMP’s awareness workshop                organized an art competition, a poster
from the public. The DSD, which aimed at         program.                                    design competition and an essay
promoting awareness in disaster preparedness                                                 competition for school children with
and environment protection among school          School awareness program:                   modest cash prizes. Invitations were
chidren, was organized for the first time on 6
April 2001. A monument was constructed to
                                                 “Catch them while they are young”           sent to every school in Ratnapura,
commemorate the Helauda landslide disaster.                                                  Nawalapitiya and Kandy. The feedback
                                                 Realizing that schools can play an          was significantly positive. Prizes were
                                                 important role in developing community      awarded later that day. An exhibition
                                                 awareness in risk and hazard                of the art and posters was also
                                                 management, SLUMDMP initiated the           displayed at the Ratnapura Municipal
                                                 “School Awareness Program” that was         Council Hall.
                                                 aimed at the school community in the
                                                 hope of sowing a “culture of safety” for    This event proved to be an overall
                                                 future generations. Also, it intended to    success, as the message to prepare
                                                 use school children to play the active      for disasters and protect the
                                                 role of mediator in disseminating the       environment was heard throughout the
                                                 message to the wider public – parents,      community. In 2003, DSD was
                                                 relatives and friends. One activity under   organized for the second time on 16th
                                                 this noteworthy endeavor was the            March. The significant success of this
                                                 organization of Disaster Safety Day,        initiative has led to several spin-offs,
                                                 which sent out the                                       including interest in
                                                 message that                                             organizing similar public
                                                 something can be                                         awareness campaigns in
Prior to the DSD event, SLUMDMP organized        done in advance to                                       other cities in Sri Lanka as
an art competition, a poster design
competition and an essay competition for
                                                 minimize the                                             well as an initiative to make
school children to take part in. The entries     devastating impact                                      Disaster Safety Day a
were exhibited at a bus stop in downtown         of disasters.                                           national event.
Ratnapura during the DSD.

Conclusion and recommendations

P     ersuading people to change their
      behavior is an enormously difficult
task, but it is not impossible. This is where
                                                    education into existing school curricula,
                                                    has shown positive signs toward
                                                    desired behavioral change.
                                                                                                              risk communication campaign in a
                                                                                                              systematic way. The fact that
                                                                                                              SLUMDMP did not conduct this
communication can be a catalyst. Risk                                                                         research properly led to flaws in the
communication should be considered as               Through its creative experiments,                         campaign design; for example,
a component of the whole disaster                   SLUMDMP has provided many                                 overlapping target population
mitigation project as it plays an                           valuable lessons learned in relation              categorizations, which causes
important and powerful role in             R i s k               to disaster risk communication.              ambiguity in identifying appropriate
raising public awareness,               communica-                 The most important lesson                  methodologies. Also, the fact that
altering people’s attitude and         tion s h o u l d             is that risk communication                existing knowledge or perception of risk
persuading them to adopt             b e considered as               programs should from the                 in the target population was not
the desired behavior.               a component of                    beginning be taken into                 assessed resulted in an information
                                    the whole disaster                 consideration as the                   overload in some of its public
In the case of SLUMDMP,            mitigation project as               p r o j e c t ’s f o c a l p o i n t . awareness material.
an inexperienced                  it plays an important Most professionals pay
                                  and powerful role
planner and implementor                                                 attention to only the                 Based on the case of SLUMDMP, it is
                                   in raising public
of disaster risk                   awareness, altering                 technical aspect of such               rather clear that we cannot always fully
communication, it is fair to        p e o p l e ’s a t t i t u d e    projects and forget                     assess the success of risk
state that its effort in this        and p e r s u a d i n g          th a t i t i s c o m m u n i t y        communication initiatives in terms of
regard has, to a certain              them to adopt                  understanding and                        altered responses. But, on the other
extent, achieved the targeted           the desired                participation that lead to                 hand, we can also see that failures
goal and objective. It has raised         b e h a v i o r . sustainability. To acquire this,                  occur when insufficient attention is
public hazard awareness and                                  risk communication is required to                given to communication design.
generated an interest in disaster                   disseminate necessary information
mitigation. Rather than changing                    about risks people face so as to help                     As a new discipline, Disaster Risk
behavior, its real influence may be more            them make informed decisions on                           Communication provides all risk
in terms of setting agenda and changing             taking appropriate action.                                managers an opportunity for learning,
attitudes. This is apparent in its effort at                                                                  exploration and experimentation in a
the policy level. SLUMDMP was quite                 Risk communication:                                       flexible manner. However, it is
successful in pushing disaster mitigation           lessons learned                                           important to bear in mind that risk
into political agenda. It gained moderate                                                                     communication system designs need
political support from local authorities            SLUMDMP’s Disaster Risk                                   resource, care and specialization.
when the project commenced, with the                Communication efforts would have                          Unfortunately, this is generally not the
exceptional case of Ratnapura Mayor Mr.             brought about a more positive outcome                     attitude of agencies which have to
Asoka Jayawardene, who has a good                   if monitoring and evaluation, another                     communicate risk. Many tend to rely on
reputation as a pioneer in disaster                 important element in risk                                 their own staff and insufficient research
mitigation.                                         communication, had been incorporated.                     to design their own communication
                                                    If risk communications are to be really                   systems, instead of using expertise and
Bringing about a change in behavior                 effective, they must be constantly re-                    good resources. So, although the
                                                    emphasized, monitored, evaluated and                      chances of success are possible, they
Political support serves as a safety net,           altered to suit the constantly changing                   are difficult to attain.
ensuring positive results for the project.          context of communities. This means
However, it does not necessarily bring              updating plans and exercises regularly.                     The ultimate goal of risk communication
                                                                                                                is not only to get the message out to
about success in changing behavior. It
                                                                                                                the audience, but also to motivate them
is stressed that the ability to impart              Sound preliminary research is a                             to take action, be it persuasive or
knowledge is not by itself able to                  prerequisite to designing an effective                      dissuasive.
change behavior. Changing behavior is
a complex process and depends on                          Basic principles for consideration in developing                                    lessons
                                                          communication strategies and tactics:                                               learned
many external factors. Nevertheless,
SLUMDMP’s success in providing risk
                                                             Involve constituents in communities.                Be creative throughout the process.
information to its target population                         Preliminary research of the targeted                Speak with one message/issue.
through many activities – including                          communities is a must.                              Incorporate local community characteristics/
occupational-based customized                                Clearly segment target audience.                    perspectives into the campaign.
                                                             Based on the findings of the research,              Create two-way communication.
awareness workshop programs,
                                                             customize the campaign for segmented                Evaluate and measure performance.
brochures, newsletters, establishment                        audience (remember, there is no one perfect         Repetition is the key to ensure the change
of Disaster Safety Day – and                                 universal campaign suitable for everyone in         sought.
institutionalization of hazard and risk                      such a diverse heterogeneous society).

                                                                                                                                Safer Cities 6, AUDMP     7
Further References

On disaster management in Sri Lanka                     Disaster Management National Forum (DIMNAF)
                                                        417/5, Welipara
Intermediate Technology Development Group               Talawatugoda, Sri Lanka                                       Editorial Board
(ITDG)                                                  Tel: ++94-1-867325
Duryog Nivaran Secretariat                                                                                            Safer Cities 6 has been reviewed by:
5 Lionel Edirisinghe Mawatha                            On disaster risk communication                                Dr. Suvit Yodmani, ADPC
Kirulapone, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka                                                                                      Mr. N.M.S.I. Arambepola, ADPC
Tel: ++94-1-852149, 892412-4                            1. Gutteling, M. Jan and Wiegman, Oene,                       Dr. Buddhi Weerasinghe, ADPC
Fax: ++94-1-856188                                         Exploring Risk Communication, 1996, Kluwer                 Ms. Suthira Suwannarpa, ADPC
E-mail:                                   Academic Publishers, Dordrecht: The                        Mr. Rajesh Sharma, ADPC
                                                           Netherlands.                                               Ms. Christine Apikul, ADPC
                                                        2. Handmer, John and Penning-Rowsell, Edmund                  Mrs. Geethi Karunaratne, CHPB
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society                            (editors), Hazards and the Communication of                Mr. Lionel Hewawasam, CHPB
P.O. Box 375                                               Risk, 1990, Gower Technical, Hants: England.               Ms. Jyotika Ramaprasad, Southern Illinois
Colombo 10 Sri Lanka                                    3. Weinreich, K. Nedra, Hands-On Social                       University, USA.
Tel: ++94-1-678420                                         Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide, 1999, Sage
Fax: ++94-1-695434                                         Publications, London: England.
Telex: 23312 SLRCS CE                                                                                                 Author: Ms. Natthinee Rodraksa, ADPC
Telegram: RED CROSS COLOMBO                                                                                           Editor: Mr. Srinivasan Iyer


The Sri Lanka Urban Multi-Hazard Disaster Mitigation Project (SLUMDMP) was launched in September 1997 under the Asian Urban Disaster Mitigation
Program (AUDMP) of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC). The objective is to reduce the vulnerability of Sri Lankan cities to landslides,
flood and typhoons. Through activities in Ratnapura, Nawalapitiya, Kandy, Colombo and cities along the Kelani river, the SLUMDMP promoted awareness,
built capacities and developed tools for incorporating risk management into urban development planning and implementation.

Project Partners

Implementation:                                                                                                                      Funding:

Center for Housing, Planning                National Building Research                     Urban Development Authority               Office of Foreign Disaster
and Building (CHPB)                         Organization (NBRO)                            (UDA)                                     Assistance (OFDA),
No. 33, Sunil Mawatha,                      99-1 Jawatte Road, Colombo                     Sethsiripaya, Battaramulla                U.S. Agency for
Pelawatta, Battaramulla,                    Sri Lanka                                      Sri Lanka                                 International Development
Sri Lanka                                   Tel: (94-1) 588-946, 501-834                   Tel: (94-1) 875-912                       (USAID)
Tel: (94-1) 785-628                         Fax: (94-1) 502-611                            Fax: (94-1) 883-670
Fax: (94-1) 785-629                         URL:
URL:                 E-mail:


The Asian Urban Disaster Mitigation Program (AUDMP) is the first and largest regional program implemented by ADPC. The AUDMP started
in 1995 with core funding from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) until 2003. The program was developed with the
recognition of increased disaster vulnerability of urban populations, infrastructure, critical facilities and shelter in Asian cities. In an environment
where good governance and decentralization are high in most countries’ political agenda, AUDMP aims to demonstrate the importance of
and strategic approaches to urban disaster mitigation as part of the urban development planning process in targeted cities of Asia.

AUDMP supports this demonstration by building the capacity of local authorities, national governments, NGOs, businesses and others responsible for
establishing public and private sector mechanisms for urban disaster mitigation as part of city management. AUDMP also facilitates knowledge sharing
and dialogue between key stakeholders to promote replication of AUDMP approaches to other cities and countries worldwide. Currently, the AUDMP
approaches have been introduced and sustained by national partner institutions in targeted cities of Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR,
Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) is a regional resource center dedicated to safer communities and sustainable development through
disaster risk reduction in Asia and the Pacific. Established in 1986 in Bangkok, Thailand, ADPC is recognized as an important focal point for promoting
disaster awareness and developing capabilities to foster institutionalized disaster management and mitigation policies.

For more information, please get in touch with us at:               Asian Disaster Preparedness Center              Tel: (66-2) 516-5900 to 10
                                                                    P.O. Box 4, Klong Luang                         Fax: (66-2) 524-5350
                                                                    Pathumthani 12120                               E-mail:
                                                                    THAILAND                                        URL:
                                                                    Contact: Information Scientist
                                                                                                                                               Safer Cities 6, AUDMP

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