Influence of Locational Characteristics on the Sustainability of Underserved Settlements in Jaffna Municipality and its Urban Fringe


  • C. Balachandran Department of Geography, University of Jaffna
  • T.M.S.P.K. Thennakoon Department of Geography, University of Sri Jayewardenepura


In developing countries, ineffective land-use planning and unplanned development have spread underserved settlements, particularly in Sri Lanka. These settlements have grown to be an important supplement to cities' insufficient formal housing supply, and they spontaneously formed spatial patterns that significantly impact sustainability. This study examines the locational characteristics of underserved settlements and their influence on their sustainability in the Jaffna Municipal area and its urban fringe. Primary data were collected through a questionnaire survey with 341 underserved settlements using a stratified random sampling technique; focus group discussions with representatives of community-based organizations and ground-level officers; interviews with administrative officers of government institutions, local authorities, academics, and social activists, while secondary data were obtained from Google Earth and government departments. The collected data were analyzed using spatial, descriptive statistics, and qualitative methods. SPSS statistical software was used to analyze the data collected via a questionnaire survey, and ArcGIS 10.4 mapping software was used to create maps. According to the results, underserved settlements' locational characteristics, specifically their location in flood-inundation areas, land reservations, and irregular road networks with poor accessibility, weaken the development potential and negatively impact the sustainability of underserved settlements as well as the urban environment. On the other hand, the current location is crucial for the livelihoods of the underserved settlements. As a result, this study emphasizes the importance of aligning underserved settlements with spatial development and sustainable development goals to reduce problems in underserved settlements and establish cities without underserved areas. Accordingly, this study is expected to be useful for developers, urban planners, and policymakers in prioritizing housing programs and livelihood asset development activities to control the emergence and growth of underserved settlements and minimize existing problems.


KEYWORDS: Underserved settlements, Locational characteristics, Influence, Sustainability, Jaffna Municipality, Urban fringe

Author Biography

C. Balachandran, Department of Geography, University of Jaffna

Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura