BRIDGING LANKA is a multi-faceted programme initiated by the Sri Lankan Austrailan Jeremy Liyanage and friends from circa 2009(?) to assist the social welfare of all the peoples in Mannar island and its adjoining hinterland. I was an observer at a town planning jam-session way back around 2011(?) and have been in touch with Liyanage ver since. Thuppahi is delighted to feature the several social service paths that BRIDGING LANKA is pursuing in the locality.
Protecting and Rehabilitating Mannar’s Kulams (ponds)
Our aim: This project aims to rehabilitate Periyakamam Kulam as a ‘demonstration kulam’ so that authorities and residents alike will be inspired to value, protect and rehabilitate other kulams in Mannar. The sharp decrease in the number of kulams caused by severe encroachment has led to worsening annual flooding in the urban area, resulting in much human displacement and misery.
- Social: (a) build community agency and ownership in the development of an attractive precinct which nurtures social interaction in a town with little open space; (b) engage the community in the design and implementation process and increase community understanding of the importance of kulams;
- Environmental: (a) protect kulams from urban encroachment and destruction; (b) provide an effective drainage system that will mitigate the impact of urban flooding; (c) improve water quality; (d) create a community campaign that stops littering and dumping of rubbish in kulam;
- Health: (a) create accessible pathways surrounding the kulam to encourage healthy activity; (b) design and conduct a ‘healthy community’ program to address the health epidemics of diabetes, heart disease and obesity through awareness and activity (walking, jogging, swimming, canoeing, etc);
- Economic: (a) create micro businesses for vulnerable groups including widows, young people and the unemployed which service local demand; (b) develop tourism-related activity for visitors to Mannar.
TWO AMATEUR IMAGES of kulams taken by Michael Roberts, August 2016, with one beside a new house