Sri Lanka: Improved Livability and Infrastructure in Kandy, Galle and Jaffna

September 20, 2016


The Strategic Cities Development project is helping reinforce spaces for cyclists in Jaffna, most of whom are women and kids, along with constructing walkways, while clearing and cleaning canals to prevent flooding.

Joe Qian/World Bank

Sri Lanka is in the midst of a structural transformation and urbanization process with the potential of yielding profound implications on economic development and poverty alleviation. Rapidly growing cities like Kandy, Galle and Jaffna are experiencing increases of population and industries, as well as higher concentrations of poverty. This project, aligned with the government’s development agenda, is expected to create a network of well-connected cities and to improve basic infrastructure services in Kandy, Galle and Jaffna

As major cities continuously grow, basic urban services and infrastructure have not kept up to meet growing demand, and existing assets are deteriorating due to lack of maintenance. Responsibility for delivering infrastructure and services are fragmented at the local level, with municipalities responsible for limited mandates. Other areas are often coordinated and managed by various agencies at the national level. Furthermore, people living in poverty and vulnerable to poverty are concentrated around the country’s main urban areas, posing challenges for major cities to provide equitable services. For instance, in Kandy, the bus system and terminal creates substantial traffic and management issues for the city and has become a key bottleneck for the historic city to thrive. However, this issue is not only a city-level problem as it serves the bus system nationwide and therefore should be addressed at a much high level.

" Our house gets flooded ten to fifteen times a year due to the canal overflowing. My family and I look forward to the project so that we can live in a healthy and pleasant environment. "

Abdul Rauff

Kandy Resident


Abdul Raouff and his family lives on a precarious canal that carries sewage and floods often. The project will help reduce flooding and improve the water access and quality. 

Joe Qian/World Bank

Kandy, Galle and Jaffna are strategic cities in Sri Lanka due to their rapidly growing population (including those vulnerable to poverty) and proposed expressways connecting to the capital, Colombo.The project is designed to improve urban services and the quality of public urban spaces to make the cities of Kandy, Galle and Jaffna more attractive and livable. It will enhance key infrastructure, such as the transportation network, water supplies, and flood mitigation systems. The project, therefore, is expected to provide improved urban services and connectivity to other cities, as well as alleviate poverty in their broader peripheries.


Bottlenecks such as this sharp turn in Kandy that leads to congestion will be improved under the project            

Joe Qian/World Bank


  • Improved urban services in Kandy, Galle and Jaffna, with 650,000 people expected to benefit from better services, such as water treatment, transportation, and improved public spaces.
  • Access to enhanced public urban spaces in Kandy and Galle, through new or rehabilitated urban public spaces and pedestrian sidewalks and pathways, as well as restored culture heritage assets under UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Much strengthened local municipal councils in Kandy, Galle and Jaffna with improved capacity for long-term sustainable city management and operation and maintenance. 

Bank Group Contribution

The Sri Lanka Strategic Cities Development Project is being supported by the World Bank initially through a $147 million development credit bolstered by $55 in additional financing for improvements in Jaffna for a total of $202 million. The overall project is expected to cost $257.08 million with the rest being funded by the Sri Lankan government.

In addition to the Bank, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are also contributing to the national strategic cities program and focus on Anuradhapura and Trincomalee respectively. The Bank is taking a leading role in terms of setting out the overall framework and approach for identifying, planning and development strategic cities investment, and is closely collaborating with AFD in this program. 


Around Jaffna's historical sites like the fort, SCDP will help support restoration, greenery, and facilities to generate employment and attract tourism while improving the quality of the experience

Joe Qian/World Bank

people expected to benefit from better services such as water treatment, transportation, and improved public spaces.