Public Consultation on Early Warning System for Dam Related Hazards and Safety
On 2 July LIRNEasia, in partnership with the Vanguard Foudation, ITDG, and Sarvodaya, conducted community meetings in Kandy and Gampola to present the interim Concept Paper for a Dam-related Hazard Warning System in Sri Lanka and consult with the public on the local and regional disaster response history .
These meetings included a screening of LIRNEasia‘s documentary on the 1986 Kantale dam disaster, with accounts from survivors and information on the current status of hazard precautions. Sarvodaya officers spoke about their organization’s role in rehabilitating affected populations in Kantale and outlined a framework for the several represented groups to collaborate on the project at hand. Rohan Samarajiva gave a detailed overview of the concept paper (now available for comments below) developed by LIRNEasia. Each presentation was followed by a session for audience questions and comments.
The meetings were well-attended, with participation from several local organizations and sectors of the community. Those present included doctors, teachers, engineers, civil servants, Army personnel, students, and many individuals representing their local communities. The audience response sessions were very productive, with input ranging from analyses of the public threat posed by dams, to recollections of past crises and historical warning systems, to suggestions for the implementation of regional disaster response programs. The participants in both meetings voiced strong support for research and community education on comprehensive natural-disaster prevention and response.
Kandy and Gampola were chosen as meeting sites because of their history with the 1947 Mahaweli floods and their situation in the direct watershed of the Mahaweli high dams. There will be an additional community meeting held 16 July in Polonnaruwa.