Community roads: Transport case study
Over 69,000 kilometres of roads in Sri Lanka are termed as "unclassified roads." These are mostly rural access roads that help rural women, men and children reach essential service centres such as hospitals, schools and banks or markets. The local government authorities that are closest to the village communities are the Pradeshiya Sabhas (PSs) which do not have sufficient funds to cover all construction, rehabilitation and maintenance work that come under their remit. Furthermore, the bureaucracy and the long-practiced work patterns of government institutions lessons scope of innovative and alternative methods to be used in providing services for the communities. A marked absence is the non-involvement of communities in the plans to develop and maintain the roads they frequently use. This can be regarded as paradoxical in the light of the low resources available to the local government offices and the age-old practice among the communities of sharing labour for community work. Where there are no roads or where paths to a village are a mere dirt track, the community of that village would organise a voluntary labour campaign popularly known in Sri Lanka as a "Shramadana". Generally set on a public holiday, women and men of the village would, together, pave the pathway to the village. But the benefits of these efforts do not last long because the roads are not made to meet technological standards. All it takes is one or two heavy rainfalls to wash the road away.