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sithamuI received last week the quarterly report of Diaspora Lanka, an organization that works in Mannar through personnel and funding from Australia to implement projects in collaboration with local institutions and people. This is a model that should be encouraged, for it has a limited focus which allows for deeper relationships and greater accountability.

It works in several areas, including Urban Planning, which is a healthy innovation in a context in which planning is limited and rarely participatory. The Report notes that, amongst the next steps envisaged, is the establishment of a working relationship between the Urban Council Mannar and the Urban Development Authority and the National Physical Planning Department. This seems an excellent idea, and I hope that the UDA gets involved actively, since this would be a healthy corrective to the claim that it functions without close liaison with the people.

It is clear from what we see around us that the UDA is doing a great job of restoring order to at least some cities, but for sustainability it is important to involve the people in projects. Given what seems careful initial planning by the Mannar Council, with due attention to environmental issues, they would be good partners for the UDA.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

December 2012
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