A city is a large human settlement. People are the main driving force in a city. The dynamism of a city is dependent on people and their behaviour. A preliminary understanding of the composition and diverse capabilities of the populations in a city should be the key to a successful urban study.
Predictions made by identifying demographic and composition patterns of the population within the existing physical boundary will create a well-planned livable city.
Cities are the primary drivers of economic development, therefore, Sri Lanka’s cities have a decisive role to play in driving the economy forward by catalysing high value-added economic activities, as the country strives to achieve upper middle-income country status.
According the latest Word Cities report, 80 per cent of global GDP is created by cities, despite their accounting for less than 60 per cent of the world’s population (UN-Habitat, 2016).
The Government of Sri Lanka recognizes the role of urban economy in shaping the future of the country. In this respect, Vision 2025 and Public Investment Programme (PIP) 2017-2020 lays out the urban policy priority actions: to promote western region as economic hub of the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, and to promote strategic city development to secondary urban spaces as provincial economic hubs.
It is also interesting to see how competitive a city is, taking into account current and potential roles of governments, businesses and the private sector in the economic development of the city and urban settlements, best use of human capital, and labour force participation, and existing skills and the job market etc. within demarcated territory.
An important function of Sri Lanka’s cities is to provide housing for the diversity of residents that support urban life. Sri Lankan early urban settlement legacy – histories, patterns, trends including land use and housing and the development challenges that come along with it have shaped the nature of our cities.
The share of housing as a proportion of built-up area across the different cities was considered, and numerous factors affect the figure. e.g. Anuradhapura, has restrictions on residential developments because of its cultural, historical and touristic importance, other MCs include significant social and economic land use, operating as a hub to surrounding suburbs and rural areas with large residential populations.
Housing policy challenges that are encountered by the city administrators relate to tenure systems, the supply of affordable, high quality housing, and difficulties accessing housing finance.
Municipal services is one of the key tasks an urban centre carries out fto ensure a functional living condition for its citizens.
The access to municipal services and the quality of their provision strongly influence the social, economic and environmental performance of a city as well as urban development.
Urban centres provide key services that underpin Sri Lanka’s socioeconomic development. Cities provide key government administration functions, such as vehicle registration services, access to social protection schemes, and a range of additional services (explored in detail in Chapter 9, urban governance in the SoSLC Report). Urban centres provide residents with health and education services: providing equitable access to quality healthcare and education. They also include services to facilitate social recreational activities and promote community cohesion, such as libraries, community centres and sports facilities. Ensuring quality services is a crucial component in securing an urban future for all Sri Lankans.
Proper management of land, a scarce resource, can bring about many benefits. This is of great importance especially in urban areas.
It is timely to figure out how land is allocated and being used for what purpose in our cities today. In order to create well planned cities with a futuristic vision, having a better understanding of current land use is imperative.
Land use maps are categorized into 36 sub-categories under two types – built-up and non built-up. The extent of land in each of these sub categories are indicated below.
In all of the cities it can be identified that the higher densities are concentrated in the city centres and the expansion is taken place along the roads. The expansion pattern is shaped by the geography of the surrounding area.
The selection of the area for the urban expansion analysis was followed by several preliminary studies. Initially, the urban index values which was identified using the remote sensing information were studied in the respective municipal areas including a fringe area.
Before selecting interested area for the expansion analysis it should consider following facts
- Municipal boundary
- At least 2-3 km buffer around Municipal boundary
- Rough boundary where the physical urban character disappearing
In the remote sensing discipline, the values higher than 0 represent the built-up areas.The boundary for the fringe area was identified by getting the extent of urban expansion as well as a fine boundary where the high-density expansion become insignificant. The identified boundaries were projected on to the latest satellite images to assure the identified urban index values are in line with the existing building densities.