An Analysis of Factors Causing Socio-Economic Impacts of The Urban Sprawl: A Case Study on Wattala-Mabole Urban Council Area and its Outskirts, Sri Lanka


  • K. Rewathy Department of Geography, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • H. A. N. Hettiarachchi Department of Geography, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka


Urban expansion in adjacent areas has been addressed by different dimensions depending on the context. Sri Lanka is gradually developing, and urban areas have mostly expanded in an unplanned manner resulting in uncontrolled urban sprawl in their new territories. Similarly, the Wattala-Mabole urban council area also has a site of urban sprawling. The main objective of this research is to identify and analyze the different factors which generate the socio-economic impacts of the urban sprawl in the study area. Further, the paper examines the challenges and opportunities of urban sprawl in the urban council and its surrounding areas. The methodological steps for the study include a questionnaire survey and interviews, and secondary data for the spatial analysis. Moreover, the spatial data have been analyzed through geographic information system applications. This study identified major factors of the urban sprawl which generate socio-economic impacts such as ‘monthly household income impacts the accommodation of the community, and unemployment causes robbery and illegal activities.’ Moreover, the rapid growth of urban council outskirts causes an increase in land value unaffordability. It was stated by the urban council that the service industries, warehouses, and massive production factories have utilized most of the low-lying lands in the outskirt area at comparatively low prices. Hence, this rejuvenated urban growth. Further, the study found that some people who are living in urban fringes gain economic benefits due to the urban sprawl by providing accommodations to the migrants, and having more business opportunities and demand for goods. However, both the urban and outskirt dwellers face socio-economic and environment related problems due to the urban sprawl. Thus, national and local governments should step ahead and implement policies to overcome the issues of the community.