Supporting returnees in Northern Sri Lanka
ACTED has supported over 2,000 vulnerable returnee households in Northern Sri Lanka to improve food security and promote livelihood recovery through local infrastructure rehabilitation and the development of home gardens.
Chemmalai East is a coastal village in Mullaitivu District, in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. In recent years, the village has been severely affected by natural disasters, including the 2004 tsunami and has borne the ongoing effects of conflict and displacement. In May 2011, two years after the end of the Sri Lankan conflict, an estimated 373,000 people returned to their areas of origin in the Northern Province, where they faced ongoing food insecurity and poor living conditions.
Through a cash for work scheme, ACTED enabled community members to repair 900 metres of road around the village, which had previously suffered from frequent flooding and severe disrepair. This action has significantly improved the quality of life in this region and has stimulated the local economy, as trades-people are now able to transport their wares to the markets, community members are able to access vital supplies and services during the rainy season and children can attend the local school without the fear of being cut-off from their homes.
In total, ACTED supported over 2,000 returnee households (approximately 7,000 individuals) in Mullaitivu and Killinochi Districts in the Northern Province, with support from the Department of Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection of the European Union. This project successfully rehabilitated over two hundred kilometres of road, cleared fifty acres of land, restored over twelve thousand metres of drainage channels and significantly improved both food security and cash availability for beneficiaries.
It is also clear that the work of ACTED teams contributed to improving social cohesion in target communities. For example, Nagamuthu who was a beneficiary in Mullaitivu District said: “While divisions run deep, daily work towards a common, community goal has helped to shake some of the engrained mistrust and prejudice that were once part of this community. Individuals from different groups are now even inviting one another to village functions”.
While many challenges lie ahead, ACTED has helped communities to improve their resilience and lay a solid foundation for sustainable recovery.