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Development for whom? Reimagining urban development in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Across the globe urban landscapes are being reshaped. Cities are being re-created to provide better housing, traffic flow, and shopping and recreational experiences. In Sri Lanka, post-war ‘development’ is reshaping Colombo, the capital city, to attract new capital for economic growth, which is underpinned by idealised images of a sanitised, safe and orderly city. It is thus cleansed of the old ‘undesirables’ — settlements and informal trading displaced to make way for new capital in redeveloping and upgrading to a ‘world class’ city, in which land and housing becomes increasingly unaffordable for the majority. While recognising that developing the city is indeed a potential engine of economic growth and a lever of social transformation, how does one reimagine the city in order to construct processes that generate as well as distribute the city’s wealth? To engage with the question, the Centre for Poverty Analysis hosted a symposium in December 2012 on ‘Reimaging Development in Colombo’. This paper will draw out the main issues discussed, which highlighted the increasing disparities of wealth and opportunity and the necessity for spatial equity in access to land and housing to ensure more inclusive urban development.
The full article is available to subscribers to the journal.