Sahana takes wing; Sri Lanka Minister recognizes a new way of producing public goods

Posted on March 28, 2009  /  0 Comments

On March 27th, 2009, the Lanka Software Foundation committed to handover the Sahana project to the Sahana Software Foundation, upon incorporation. The award winning software, developed in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, is now recognized as a leading disaster management software suite and has been deployed from the Philippines to Manhattan. In the course of the handing over ceremony I commented that Sahana exemplified a new kind of public good, that relied on funding and contributions from many sources, EXCEPT the government of the country it was developed in.

In his brief comments, Hon Tissa Vitarana, Minister of Science and Technology of the Government of Sri Lanka, graciously conceded that the government has a lot of catching up to do.

Now that the open source project is being spun off as a global public good to be maintained and developed by an international committee of disaster and open source professionals, there is not much point in giving Sahana money. But here are a few things that would place the government of Sri Lanka among the ranks of the supporters of Sahana:
1. Undertake to incorporate Sahana Lanka Foundation through Parliamentary legislation so that it can serve as the Southern face of the Sahana Software Foundation.
2. Agree that all of Sri Lanka’s disaster risk reduction and response agencies will adopt Sahana and commission Respere, the local start up that specializes in supporting to Sahana to implement the software within the disaster agencies, and ensure that the databases are populated PRIOR to the occurrence of a disaster.

1 or 2 would be fine, though both would be nice.

I served as a member of the Board of LSF since inception and as the Chair for a few years. LIRNEasia supported Sahana, commissioning the SMS module as part of its disaster risk-reduction work and thereby helping to move Sahana’s focus from relief and recovery to the pre-disaster phase as well.

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