US donates landslide monitoring instruments to Sri Lanka

The United States donated landslide monitoring instruments to Sri Lanka’s National Building Research Organization (NBRO) to more effectively manage the risk of landslides in Nikgaha, Kalutara.

As part of the initiative, engineers and geologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) visited Sri Lanka from November 5 to 15 to partner with Sri Lanka’s scientists on the installation and use of the equipment, which will enable NRBO staff to quickly identify areas vulnerable to landslides and avert the loss of life and property.

“Better preparedness will help save lives,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Alaina B. Teplitz. “This equipment will enable NBRO to issue targeted regional landslide warnings, which are crucial for rural communities.”

Sri Lanka is highly prone to landslides due to monsoon rainfall, population growth, and new construction in the country’s hilly interior. Worth four million Sri Lankan Rupees, the equipment will enable the NRBO to remotely monitor groundwater levels and rainfall in areas at risk for landslides.

The USGS team also led workshops for NBRO staff on improving the quality of landslide mapping, the use of high resolution topographic data, and the role scientists can play during disaster response. Participants learned how data generated by Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), a very precise method to measure the surface of the earth, can be used to identify landslide hazard areas. The workshop also addressed techniques for collecting landslide data in the field, including using tablet computers to collect and interpret field data.

The equipment, installations, and the research exchange were supported through the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Since 2018, USGS and USAID/OFDA have worked with NBRO reduce landslide risk and save lives.

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