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Looking to the future: community-driven development and pro-poor growth in Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka’s newfound stability after almost three decades of civil war has offered from 2011 on an incredible opportunity for the island nation to harness its untapped development potential and build a strong foundation for sustainable peace and prosperity. With a brighter and more stable future on the horizon, ACTED Sri Lanka looked in 2011 beyond the provision of emergency and rehabilitation response programs, towards a long-term country strategy, while still retaining the capacity to react to urgent needs as they arise. The focus was on agricultural livelihoods and economic development, local governance, environment and national resource management, cross-cutting issues such as gender, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and advocacy.
Supporting returnees in Northern Sri Lanka
2011 saw a shift in ACTED Sri Lanka’s strategy, from one of emergency response and humanitarian provisions, to the equally critical stage of post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation. Years of abandonment and conflict-inflicted damage had negatively impacted infrastructure, critical to the country’s economy. To support the recovery efforts of returned populations in the North of the country, ACTED, together with its Alliance2015 partners Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and People in Need (PIN) as well as Swiss Labour Assistance (SAH), implemented a number of cash transfer programs. Through cash for work (CFW), 11,294 returned families had sufficient funds to meet their basic needs and ensure food security. CFW was also a useful means to rehabilitate productive infrastructure and assets such as roads, irrigation channels and water reservoirs, agricultural land, etc. In addition, over 800 extremely vulnerable families were provided with conditional cash grants and received business training in order to set-up micro-enterprises which enabled them to earn a regular monthly income. ACTED Sri Lanka also supported the construction and rehabilitation of critical infrastructure in returnee villages with a focus on pre-schools to improve the learning environment; rice storage facilities to support farmers to keep their harvest safe and sell it at a better price several months later; and Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society (MPCS) buildings which host mini-supermarkets enabling the population to get food and other essential goods directly in their villages.
Empowering the East: grassroots development planning in Sri Lanka
The East of Sri Lanka is plagued by relative economic underdevelopment, marginalisation from central markets and sub-par infrastructure. Multiple displacements during the 27-year conflict, compounded with catastrophic-scale disasters such as the 2004 tsunami and 2011 flooding, have destroyed the social fabric, local coping mechanisms and trust in government institutions. In the East, a significant constraint has been the lack of grassroots participation in decision-making processes, exacerbating vulnerability and fostering marginalisation. Communities are often not consulted by local authorities when development plans are formulated, meaning what they consider to be their vital needs and concerns are ignored. To support development/reintegration efforts in the Eastern districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee, ACTED Sri Lanka has taken a holistic, grassroots approach to empower over 25,000 returnee and disadvantaged communities at both the social level and technical levels. Community-based structures, including village committees, have been established and trained to drive community rehabilitation and development planning, and individuals are encouraged to take ownership of their communities through conducting participatory needs assessments at the village level and then proposing and implementing solutions to the entire range of social and economic issues they face through grassroots development plans. Such planning enabled the rebuilding of fractured communities through 66 livelihood activities and 77 diverse infrastructure activities (ranging from agricultural activities such as renovating wells, constructing culverts and rehabilitating irrigation tanks, to constructing pre-schools, multi-purpose buildings and market places). Participatory planning is further promoted by facilitating linkages with local authorities to ensure inclusive governmental planning and foster the integration of 22 grassroots development plans into district-level planning. To ensure that the social needs of all vulnerable returnee groups are considered, disability is addressed as a cross-cutting issue, and ACTED has been working alongside Handicap International to promote inclusion of persons with disabilities and mainstream disability considerations in all activities. Alongside modifying common community buildings, 803 community-based organisation forum members have participated in training workshops and gained knowledge on disability inclusion, and 1,024 working group members have gained knowledge of accessibility features in infrastructural construction and 157 persons with disabilities received mobility aids.
Pro-poor growth through community-driven development
With the resettlement of displaced populations and the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure comes the need for sustainable development with a longer-term perspective. ACTED has responded to these evolving needs in Sri Lanka with a strategy that hinges on the promotion of equitable development and pro-poor growth, contributing to the country’s need for equitable distribution of wealth and resources. While continuing to support the needs of the most vulnerable returnees in the North through infrastructure rehabilitation and cash transfer activities, the concept of community-driven development through the strengthening of community-based organisations continues to influence many of ACTED activities in Sri Lanka. New opportunities for 2012 also involve Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) development in the East, providing clear and realistic frameworks for the growth and increased productivity of 40 SMEs, providing training on the business management and technical area of production, as well as supporting in the business registration process in order to increase employment and strengthen the supply chain, contributing to the economic development of the East.
Partenaires en 2011
EuropeAid, Centre de Crise (CDC), European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).