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ICSLS
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Spatial Strategies to Minimize Regional Disparities in Sri Lanka.

P.K.S. Mahanama
Department of Town & Country Planning, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a developing country with many national issues such as poverty, ethnic
issues and poor economic growth. Since independence, the provisions being made by the
respective governments to find solutions to all these issues, but yet no proper equitable
development has taken place. It has also been observed that Sri Lanka is facing
disparities in spatial terms in economic growth, social conditions, environmental
sustainability and physical development. This is obvious by the fact that the contribution
to GDP from different spatial entities show a remarkable differences from province to
province, Western Province being the highest totalling more than 50% to countrys total
GDP while in social indicators like poverty head count in Sri Lanka Western Province
shows the lowest having 11% and Northern Province possesses the highest of 39%. This
has been a trend in Sri Lanka for a long time and still other provinces could not compete
with the reality.

The history shows some evidence, that the past governments had taken some initiatives
to reduce this issue, by providing piecemeal solutions like Mahaweli development
project. But still the spatial imbalances prevail as it is. All these are manifested as spatial
disparities. Utilisation of space in a sustainable and a rational order is very important to
achieve spatial equilibrium. There should be a comprehensive analysis to find out the
reasons for these disparities and to find out solutions addressing the key causative factors
as to where it went wrong and why it went wrong. The issues of such should be
focused on a development perspective giving priority to spatial development while
safeguarding equity, social well being, economic growth and environmental
sustainability. If spatial strategies are to be evolved to minimize these spatial differences,
it will include various suggestions to reduce this phenomena and ways and means of
achieving a more or less equitable spatial development in all aspects. This paper focuses
the identification of the regional disparities in terms of social, economic and physical
through applying a Spatial Multivariate Technique. Further, this paper would also
propose an appropriate spatial strategy to minimize the spatial disparities in order to
achieve equitable development.

Key words: Regional disparity, economic growth, poverty, spatial strategies,
sustainable development