- Environmental Integration in Sri Lanka’s Financial Sector: CSF’s New Research Study
- Anchoring meaningful community participation at the heart of nature-based solutions in cities
- Dirty Business: Reading modernity in Colombo’s fish markets
- Financing Conservation: Six Mechanisms Sri Lanka Should Know About
- Understanding Power Asymmetries in Platform-based Gig Work
- October 2023
- September 2023
- August 2023
- July 2023
- June 2023
- May 2023
- April 2023
- March 2023
- January 2023
- December 2022
- November 2022
- October 2022
- September 2022
- August 2022
- June 2022
- May 2022
- April 2022
- March 2022
- February 2022
- December 2021
- October 2021
- September 2021
- August 2021
- July 2021
- June 2021
September 26, 2023
Anchoring meaningful community participation at the heart of nature-based solutions in cities
Historically, and more often than not, community participation has taken the form of “consultations” to satisfy engagement criteria for projects, a sort of ‘tick-box’ exercise. These can take the form of awareness raising initiatives to inform communities that projects are taking place in their communities or with the ecosystems they engage with. In these instances, communities have little autonomy to guide the direction of these projects or voice their opinion and provide feedback. For NbS initiatives to be successful, meaningful engagement is essential to ensure project success. Thus, it is paramount that we move to a model of meaningful community engagement in a way that is equitable and just with the communities who will be impacted either directly or indirectly, by NbS projects. This article details out principles of community engagement that should be taken into consideration when designing NbS projects to ensure meaningful engagement and participation throughout the project lifecycle from conception through to completion and finally to review evaluation.
September 20, 2023
Dirty Business: Reading modernity in Colombo’s fish markets
Why are fish markets consistently decried as filthy, and what does that say about urban space and our changing ideas of what is acceptable in our cities? While adding fish markets to the list of national failings may be the simplest course of action, a closer examination of how these markets are perceived by urban planners and administrators, offers us insight into dominant ideologies of planning, municipal governance and public health that continue to influence our cities today.
September 5, 2023
Borrowing To Eat: The Impact of Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis on Colombo’s Working Class Poor
Colombo Urban Lab’s third policy brief on the impact of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis on Colombo’s working class poor communities focusses on household debt and social security. Our ongoing research with communities in Colombo show an increase in household debt as families struggle with competing expenses - food, utility bills, transport, education, health, livelihood. Poverty and vulnerability presents itself very differently in Colombo, and while the streets of Colombo may look like it is back to normal, the crises faced by working class families tell a different story.
August 16, 2023
Policy-Lab on ‘Integrating Equity and Reframing Urban NbS in South Asian Cities’
The need for Nature-based Solutions (NbS) that integrate equity and address the unique challenges of South Asian cities will be the focal point of a two-day Policy-Lab scheduled to take place on August 22-23, 2023, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Colombo Urban Lab will be one of the collaborating partners at this event together with People's Alliance for Right to Land (Sri Lanka), Transitions Research (India) and International Centre for Climate Change and Development (Bangladesh). The event, supported by the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Strategic Collaborative Fund, aims to reframe NbS within the region's social, political, and economic context, focusing on the growing urban areas.
July 15, 2023
Circuits of Semiconductors and Affiliation: a Shallow Dive into the Small-Scale Mobile Phone Repair Sector
In Sri Lanka, the way telecommunication technologies have embedded themselves into people’s lives cannot be ignored. Over the past two decades, mobile telephone voice subscriptions have gradually increased. Furthermore, at the end of 2021, the total cellular mobile telephone subscriptions were 135% of the population. These facts and figures describe the public’s need for mobile phone connectivity services in order to connect to people and things. However, within this sector, the roles played by states and larger enterprises tend to overshadow the ancillary roles played by people organised at smaller scales.
June 7, 2023
Beyond Pomp and Pageantry: Looking at Public Markets as Lived Spaces
The reconfiguration of Colombo’s built environment and key infrastructure has lasting consequences for the city’s food environment and people’s access to affordable and nutritious fresh produce. Public markets are more than the building in which its activities take place. They are lived spaces for people of different walks of life and facilitate more than mere commercial activities. The conceptualisation and design of these markets must also consider the lived experiences of those that work and engage with the market, in order to make them sustainable in the long run.
April 7, 2023
Breaking Point: Impact of Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis on Colombo’s Working Class Poor
The impact of the economic crisis on the working class poor of Colombo over the past year cannot be overstated. As we highlighted in our May 2022 policy brief, most of these households that were already affected by the pandemic due to a loss of daily wage work following the imposition of COVID-19 lockdowns, were cash-strapped and struggling to make ends meet when the economic crisis hit last year. The April 2023 policy brief gives an update on the current status of working class poor households and those working in the informal sector in Colombo. This includes the impact of the electricity tariff hikes on them, a commentary on the ongoing Welfare Benefits Board enumeration of households, and recommendations on how the State and policy makers can support these families in crisis.
March 14, 2023
Valuing the Catch of the Day: Towards a more Humanised Food Value Chain
Even with limited understanding about how exactly they function, it is hard to not appreciate the capacity of markets to coordinate the movement of seafood from our oceans to our plates using the price mechanism and relationships. However, exploring upstream of the fish supply chains, does beg the question about what “relevant information” is lost when the value of fish is determined by the price mechanism. The distress of fishermen who are finding it increasingly harder afford their traditional livelihood, the plight of vendors of small fish markets where prices of fish are beyond the spending capacity of the immediate community, the loss of livelihoods of the most vulnerable of us who provide their labour at fish landing sites, and the impacts on marine life as fishermen may be forced to maximise catch to make each trip to sea economically efficient: How well does information about these aspects travel with price information? Or is this information not relevant?
January 9, 2023
Chasing Efficiency While Leaving the Vulnerable to Their Own Devices
Interventions to support people and communities who lack access to infrastructure need to consider solutions that stem from the question “what do their (collective or individual) capacities allow” rather than “what should they do”. When comparing the urban environment within high-rise apartments and tenement gardens such as Seevalipura, it is apparent that the urban environment people live in and their relationships with structures of power such as state institutions also have a bearing on their capacities to access infrastructure. Therefore, solving issues related to people’s capacities to access infrastructure requires a more grounded approach which is sensitive to understanding the variety of contexts in which people live, and not only counting and accounting revenue generated, costs incurred, and average monthly incomes.
September 19, 2022
Food for Thought: Rethinking Home Gardening and Subsistence Agriculture
To mitigate the rise in food insecurity, “home gardening” has emerged as a popular buzzword amongst policy makers. In May, the Minister of Agriculture encouraged the public to start growing food in their home gardens. Whilst home gardening can help improve dietary diversity and reduce the severity of food insecurity, it will, in no way, completely eradicate food insecurity for Colombo’s working class poor. It also cannot be the Government’s way of absolving themselves from Colombo’s food crisis. For those living in Colombo facing a burden of duality of both food insecurity and space restrictions, instructions to “stay at home and grow food”, is simply not enough. There needs to be more targeted focus on supporting communities that don’t have the space or resources to grow. In order to better support Colombo’s working class poor to grow food to help increase dietary diversity, and to reduce the impact of food insecurity, we have detailed some recommendations based on empirical evidence from our field work.