Welcome to the January Edition of the Best Practices Monthly Feature. Having concluded the Dubai International Award winners series in December 2018, we aim to highlight Best Practices from UN-Habitat and other stakeholders in the month's ahead. In this months' edition, we focus on the State of Sri Lankan Cities Report (SoSLC) 2018, which illustrates an integrated policy matrix methodology as a best practice to promote a better urban future for all Sri Lankans.
The report has examined the 9 provincial cities of Sri Lanka to provide key city level data and present an integrated policy analysis. In doing so, it aims to support evidence-based urban policy and planning to drive the social and economic development of the country’s urban centres. The State of Sri Lankan Cities project has developed an integrated policy matrix tool to aid policy makers identify policies that work across all sectors. The integrated policy matrix links 32 Key Messages identified through the sectoral assessments (Sectoral Constraints) to 5 key tenets of a better urban future for all Sri Lankans (City Outcomes).
The report examines the spatial attributes of the country’s urbanization. It shows the scale of Sri Lanka’s urbanization is far greater than official statistics suggest. The use of satellite imagery has revealed that the country’s 9 Provincial Capitals expanded at an average rate of 6.42% per year in the period 1995 – 2017 and accounted for an estimated population of 7.39 million in 2017. Urban expansion has occurred as low-density urban sprawl outside official municipal boundaries and is therefore hidden from official urban population statistics.
2. People and Functions
The report also provides a detailed land use mapping from very-high resolution satellite imagery of the 9 provincial Capitals in 2017. It finds that the capitals perform a range of functions that are crucial to the country’s social and economic development, although a greater range of urban services are located in cities in western areas and/or in cities well-connected to the capital, Colombo. In contrast, the populations of cities in the east and north, and more remote central areas have less access to urban services.
3. Urban Economies;
In the report, the cities are seen as integral to Sri Lanka’s economic development. The Western Region Megapolis and the 8 other provincial capital districts account for 71% of Sri Lanka’s GDP; the Western Region Megapolis alone accounts for around 40% of the GDP. The State of Sri Lankan Cities assessment of urban economies draws on a Location Quotient (LQ) analysis and labour productivity assessment to identify a number of emerging sectors that can drive future growth and spread economic development to less developed regional cities.
The analysis from the report identifies a range of housing policy challenges related to tenure systems, the supply of affordable, high-quality housing, and difficulties accessing housing finance. The analysis also explores Sri Lanka's long tradition of people-centred approaches to housing, including the globally replicated People's Process, that have incorporated the diverse and changing needs of urban residents in urban housing policy.
5. Municipal Services;
Linked to the issue of housing is access to municipal services and utilities. A key issue is related to rapid sprawl expansion in many cities, which means much of the demand for municipal services comes from the population living outside the municipal boundary. Kandy's municipal area, for example, has an estimated population of 113,000 but also serves an additional urban fringe population of 117,00. This trend is common across the 9 Provincial Capitals, and creates financing and coordination challenges to the provision and maintenance of a range of public services from public space to sidewalks to health and education.
Intercity and rural-urban connectivity is highlighted as key to driving and re-balancing development across Sri Lanka’s cities and the entire country. In particular, while there has been much progress on upgrading roads and rail infrastructure, challenges remain in logistics and emerging technologies.
7. Risk and resilience;
Sri Lankan Cities like many in the Asia region are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and associated risks. The report finds that the 9 provincial capitals are exposed to a variety of climate risks with landslides, floods and associated disease outbreaks being the most severe.
The report’s last sectoral analysis focuses on urban governance. A City Governance Index (CGI) is developed to measure the performance of local authorities in Sri Lanka’s 9 Provincial Capitals. It finds that municipal authorities face significant financial pressures to raise revenue to fund the development of infrastructure and deliver basic urban services.
1. COMPETITIVE CITIES