Usaviwattha Incremental Housing Project

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Focus Areas: Housing

The Usaviwattha Housing project aims to construct 50 houses in Moratuwa, Usaviwattha. It also aims to include the community in the process and to improve partnerships with the Local Government Authority. Houses are to be constructed in three stages. The community gave input on the designs and plans of the project, which were forwarded to the MC. 20 houses had to be demolished in order to clear the site for construction. To accommodate families whose homes had been demolished 20 temporary houses were constructed. Interaction between the Federation and government was initially unstable, but with Federation efforts the Moratuwa Municipal council and government gained in their understanding of the Federation’s work and relationships improved. The Government provided the land at no cost to the Federation and gave USD 8000 for doors, windows, and water services. This has helped decrease the community’s debt burden. The Federation had to engage in substantial negotiations with the government and Local Government regarding the size of houses, and also with the Sanasa Development Bank regarding housing loans. The Ministry of Urban Development gave special approval to construct houses of between 300m2 and 400m2 as opposed to the standard 500m2. Throughout the process beneficiaries increased in their involvement in the project. Through strong relations between the Moratuwa Municipal council, the government and the Federation an urban poor fund has been established.  The presidency of the fund was accepted by His Worship Mayor of the Moratuwa Municipal Council. The project has the potential to be scaled up as after the establishment of the urban poor fund a housing project in the Nagarasabawathupura settlement was planned.  The Federation feels that slum dwellers could realize their housing dream through such community housing projects. 

Location: Usaviwattha, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Upali Sumitri (+94) 33 222 796 2

Project information updated: 20 March 2014

Project in depth

Detailed Information

This project sees the Sri Lanka Alliance of Janarukula and Women’s Development Bank Federation (WCBF) respond to a housing need in Usaviwaththa settlement. Usaviwattha has been in existence for more than 75 years. At the onset of the project, 56 households had been living illegally without land rights. The settlement was formed as a result of constructing for labourers working for the Moratuwa Municipal council - having grown since – and has been historical owned by the Municipal council. Enumerations of the settlement show that 80% of its occupants earn their income through the collection of wastes of the Moratuwa Municipal Council area and cleaning the roads.
Community participation was encouraged throughout this project.  The Federation started savings programme in the settlement, forming small savings groups of women. Four savings groups are active and deposits for loans have been collected.  Collective savings are to fund the project through loan repayments.  It is planned that funds repaid will form a revolving fund used to issue loans for further construction of houses. Using this system is more sustainable as money lenders charge high interest. A total of USD 25 000 was collected over three years. 

Funding Information



Implementing Partners

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Women Development Bank