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Programmes Technology Foss @ ICTA Deployment of the Sahana disaster management system for the NDRSC

Deployment of the Sahana disaster management system for the NDRSC

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The National Disaster Relief Services Center (NDRSC) ( is responsible for post disaster management and relief activities in Sri Lanka. The main functions of the NDRSC is Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief and Resettlement & Rehabilitation. The NDRSC is under the purview of Ministry of Disaster Management and works with several other government organizations involved in the relief effort based on the type and magnitude of the disaster. The NDRSC carries out it's work in the field through the responsible government operatives in district and divisional secretariat levels.

All procedures involved with disaster related activities are pre-defined to be aligned with a work-flow system and application forms have been defined for each activity. The forms provided are first filled out either at the first reporting stage of an incident or monthly first by Grama Niladhari and then by the Divisional Secretariat (DS). This data is then verified by District Secretariat and faxed to the NDRSC for the purpose of data gathering for estimation and  allocating relief funds and resources across the country. The approval of these estimates and requests for relief is first endorsed by the respective District Secretariat and transferred to the respective DS.

Need of a Information and Communication Technology (ICT)  System

 Data that is gathered by the NDSRC is fed into an existing desktop application based legacy systems. However this system cannot serve as a complete solution and the system does not provide support to enhance to cater the additional operational needs of the NDRSC such as fund allocation, support in decision making, reporting facility and other features. Furthermore, no support is provided to maintain and enhance the capability of current system.

Thus, the Ministry, NDRSC and ICTA collaboratively had several discussions and came to a conclusion that ICT can be deployed to improve the efficiency and service delivery services of NDRSC significantly. A solution which supports integration with the existing work-flows of the NDRSC with key features such as comprehensive reporting facility and support in decision making would enhance the functions of the NDRSC resulting increased efficiency.

Sahana ( is an internationally recognized award winning web-based disaster management system that addresses the common coordination problems related to post disaster such as finding missing people, managing aid, managing volunteers, tracking camps effectively between Government groups, the civil societies (NGOs) and the victims themselves. Currently among the available proprietary disaster management systems in the world, Sahana is the only free and open disaster management system that can be downloaded and customized freely.

Sahana project was initiated by a group of software professionals of Sri Lanka as a disaster management software after the Tsunami disaster in year 2004. Sahana has been deployed officially to manage various large scale disasters in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, Peru, Bangladesh and China. Sahana is managed by the Sahana Foundation and under the supervision of the foundation it is continuously researched and improved by a large group of software community spread all over the world. Moreover, the improvement to the Sahana software is supported by Google through its Google Summer of Codes.

However, the Sahana disaster management system which was initiated by Sri Lanka software professionals has not been extensively used for disaster management in Sri Lanka. As the apex government organization which manages and performs the post disaster relief work in Sri Lanka, NDRSC has a great responsibility of making the lives affected by disasters comfortable by providing maximum relief. On the other hand, magnitude of disasters and disaster patterns have been drastically changed during the last decade and several districts have been named as disaster prone districts. In this context, increasing the efficiency of  NDRSC processes is very important.

Since the Sahana is the only free and open disaster management system which has been successfully deployed in several countries, it was envisioned that the Sahana would be the perfect solution which could be easily customized and enhanced to cater the requirements of NDRSC within a short period of time. The integration supports the existing work-flows of the NDRSC while at the same time it enhances the NDRSC framework with relevant Sahana features. Furthermore, few additional modules were developed to cater the special requirements of NDRSC.

The resulting system supports the NDRSC to continue to receive input data on existing data entry forms from the Divisional Secretariat and District levels. At the same time, the Sahana solution brings efficiencies to the NDRSC processes and reduce data entry errors, whilst providing more accessible information. Use of the Sahana system will provide new capabilities to the NDRSC to improve collaboration efficiency with both their network of users at District and Divisional Secretariat level as well as improve their data management and analysis capabilities which are useful in decision making and forecasting.

The Key Components of the Project

Customization and improvement of the existing Sahana modules to cater to the requirements of NDRSC.
Develop new modules for fund management, reporting and messaging.
Carry out disaster event simulations to verify the operational behaviours.
Hands-on training for all central and peripheral level users (approximately 1300 users spread across the country).
Support and maintenance for the system for a period of 18 months.
24x7 support for 5 disaster events during 18 months period of support and maintenance.

Current Status

System implementation work was completed in February 2012. This includes an implementation of a  Change Request (CR) to enhance the features of the fund management module and to adhere with the recent government circular changes with respect to the disaster relief activities.
System was deployed in Lanka Government Cloud (LGC). Both production and staging (testing) environments have been deployed in LGC. Production system is accessible to the users via  Lanka Government Network (LGN).
System was launched in November 2012 in western province. A laptop computer was given to each Divisional Secretariats in western province to be used for disaster relief work. Thereafter the system was rolled-out in Ratnapura and Kegalle districts.
Before end of year 2013, system will be rolled out in southern province. North province will be completed once LGN phase-III is completed in North province in December 2013. All remaining district will be completed during year 2014.


The system was selected as one of the best systems in e-Swabhimani, National Best e-Content Award- 2011 under the category 'e- Government and Institutions'.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 October 2013 16:38 )  

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