July 03, Colombo: The World Bank is lending Sri Lanka US$ 213 million to prevent the flooding in the country's economic capital of Colombo and increase its defenses against the natural disaster to safeguard the livelihoods of city's 2.5 million people and the economic health of the entire country.
The metropolitan city faces increased risk of devastating floods when it rains and severe flooding in 2010 exposed the city's vulnerability to shifting patterns of torrential rain, which is linked to climate change.
The cost of the 2010 floods in the city is conservatively estimated at US$50 million and the Bank says it could have been much worse.
According to World Bank the rainfall frequency has almost doubled in Colombo over the last 30 years, suggesting that floods of this scale will happen with increasing regularity in the future, each time with potentially crippling economic consequences.
The Bank says it is an essential public investment.
The bulk of the US$ 213 million loan given through the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project will be used to bolster Colombo’s resilience and its ability to prevent floods in the future by improving the network of canals, pumps, culverts and drainage channels that form the backbone of the city’s flood and drainage management infrastructure, the global lender said.
The Metro Colombo project will allocate over US$ 93 million to enhance the drainage capacity of the Colombo water basin; rebuilding and improving a series of major canals, floodgates and drainage tunnels to significantly expand flood outflows and to get excess water out of the system faster.
Part of the project will focus on restoring the city's water storage capacity that was lost over the last decade due to city growth by restoring the lakes and wetlands.
The project allocates US$28 million to improve the micro-drainage system which funnel water into much larger canals that discharge into the sea within the area administered by the Colombo Municipal Council, focusing on 15 priority hot-spots that are particularly prone to floods.
Another US$14 million is earmarked to improve drainage management while US$ 11 million will be spent to complement flood-reduction measures around Beira Lake Linear Park and the rich wetlands of the Beddagana Park, near the Parliament.
The project will also invest US$50 million in urban development and infrastructure including the upgrading of the Town Hall Square and the Vihara Maha Devi park and several other parks in the city. In addition, overhead foot-bridges bridges, sidewalks and street lighting are some other improvements.