The demonstration site
Two generically different sites were chosen for the demonstration:
a) Upgrading of an informal settlement for which Halgaha Kumbura was selected. It is a more than 20 year old informal settlement (shanty) of about 500 families on the eastern edge of Colombo along a canal, which is currently being upgrading with the help of UN-ESCAP and the Dutch Government and Sevanatha is the executing NGO for that project.
b) Use of public open land that is currently under used and therefore to be converted into community based Urban Agriculture (UA) field. For this option several sites were considered Eli House Park, Campbell Park, Ayurvedic Dispensary site at Dematagoda, and Kirulapone Herbarium. The Working Group along with Prof. Vikram Bhatt discussed advantages and disadvantages of these three sites: Eli House Park is a very prestigious and prominent facility that has declined and can be turned around if the surrounding community, which is of mixed income, can be convinced and their commitment can be assured; Sevanatha will have to do much footwork to achieve this goal. Moreover, it’s such a prestigious site that there may be some resistance for its use. Campbell Park is similar in nature, but large parts of it are already turned over to public use and public institutions –schools and play grounds – and therefore one small portion of it that is totally neglected can be chosen for the UA demostration. Most critical problem with this site is that it does not have a real community surrounding it, so we may have to work with the neighboring municipal office staff and schools teachers and students. Kirulapone Herbarium looks like the best option because of the following reason: it is next to an informal community, medical department has a working herbarium here and Sevanatha has set up a garbage-sorting center next to it. There is a history of vandals associated with this site, but with the community involvement and input from the medical department or secure fence it may be possible to address this.
The HK upgrading project is very large (more than 500 families) so it may be necessary to divide it into several manageable blocks. Several homes along the canal are on very low laying area and therefore may have to be relocated, where to send them will have to be address. If this project is to be implemented well the canal has to be cleaned and edge repaired, to do so other powers that be will have to be mobilized. The Working Group is aware of it and has started considering ways to move on it quickly, one option that is suggested is to declare it a special project site.
Some problematics observed in HK.
Ongoing upgrading process.
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Examples of Urban Agriculture and local people.
The Kirulapone Herbarium, which belongs to the Indigenous Medical Department of the Colombo Municipal Council, was selected as a demostration site for the development of a community garden project. A portion of the public open land is to be converted in a community based urban agriculture field. Next to the site there is a large informal settlement and a garbage sorting centre set up by Sevanatha that is used by the community.
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