Prague, Batticaloa (12th February 2013) – People in Need helped more than 25,000 people who having been scourged by a civil war for 26 years, returned to their homes and restored their livelihood. More than one hundred thousand people fell victim to the bloody conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and the organisation Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the Tamil Tigers), and more than 300 thousand inhabitants of the island had been driven away from their homes within the last period of the war. People in Need (PIN) helped the people, who had been living in refugee camps for months and lost their homes and property, repair their houses. It provided them with the opportunity to earn financial resources through Cash for Work project of public works and sole proprietors were rendered grants for the initiation of small enterprises.
In the years of 2010 and 2011 after having spent months in refugee camps, the majority of the displaced people started to return to the areas significantly destroyed by the war. They often found only devastated homesteads where they would have never been able to restore their original livelihood without someone else´s help. PIN helped one hundred most vulnerable families in the regions of Vavuniya and Kilinochchi with the repair of their half-demolished residences thanks to the financial resources of the People in Need Club of Friends relief fund and the official aid of the Czech Republic. People were constructing their houses mostly on their own. “People in Need only provided the essential construction material and contributed to the wages of the qualified working force. By that we ensured bigger sustainability and effectiveness,” Petr Drbohlav, Regional Desk Officer for Asia, stated.
Except for houses, the war had heavily damaged access roads, traditional markets or irrigation systems, which paralysed the agriculture and made it impossible to trade and supply the areas with goods. The rice crop, which is inevitable for survival, failed in the first place. People, who had experienced several displacements and had often lost several family members, were severely afflicted by the lack of nutrition and cut in social services. Moreover, in some areas they were troubled by land mines and other unexploded munitions. PIN concentrated not only on the emergency relief, but helped people mainly restore their livelihood and find new ways of supporting their families.
PIN’s aid in numbers: 5,214 families were included in the Cash for Work project 532 families received small financial grants 669 families were provided with domestic animals 639 families gained seeds or seedlings of fruit trees 100 houses were repaired
Almost 20,000 people could use the financial resources they had gained from the Cash for Work project of public works, which included cleaning irrigation channels, repairing roads, schools, bridges or public areas. “Public works significantly improved the functioning of municipalities and ensured work for more than 5 000 families,” Petr Drbohlav explained in detail. PIN provided more than 500 families with small grants that enabled them to start small enterprises while being supported by the financial resources from the official aid of the Czech Republic and the European Union. People usually opened small restaurants, groceries, small agricultural businesses or they started making clothes. For the beginning, some of them received essential equipment, such as water pumps or sewing machines.
Even though Andi Krishnashami from Sivapuram lost a leg at work, after the war conflict he still wanted to carry on with his previous job of a bicycle mender. However, he was missing the necessary equipment. “People in Need gave me a grant, thanks to which I could buy electric lights that enabled me to work also at night. Still, I had some money left for modern equipment that made it possible for me to work longer and more effectively,” Andi Kirshnashami says and, later on, adds that thanks to the modernization of his enterprise, he can earn from five to six thousand rupees. Moreover, at a seminar, he learned how to improve his business, obtain a loan or save effectively.
Other one thousand families initiated their new livelihood with seedlings of fruit trees, seeds or domestic animals, which were supplied by People in Need while being partially funded through the official aid of the Czech Republic and the European Union. People started to grow mainly limes, coconuts or maniocs. The villagers got altogether for example 225 cows, 113 goats or 4,040 chickens. Apart from that, the inhabitants of Sri Lanka participated in specialist seminars, where they learned how to take proper care of the domestic animals, they got the basics of business, irrigation techniques or fishing.
Mr Kumarathasan is 40 years old and blind. After his wife had fallen ill during an escape before the conflict broke out, his family was left without an income. With the assistance of People in Need, they decided to open a grocery where Kumarathasan could attend the customers even with his impairment. “We received a grant of 15,000 rupees and we opened the shop where we both work in a newly reconstructed building. At the seminar, we also found out how to deal with our finances,” Mr Kumarthasan shows how satisfied he is with his new situation and he also adds that now he and his wife can earn 3,500 rupees a month.
During the project, field workers, who rendered counselling services and helped people communicate with Sri Lankan authorities, were available in the area. People suffering from war traumas could also use the psychosocial assistance.
The aim of the project of public works was mainly to grant people access to food. “The goal had been was achieved as we found out, while assessing the project, that people had spent more than 60 % of the provided finances on food, which also reflected positively on their nutrition and health condition. Moreover, on average, people had spent more than 30 % of the finances on equipment, seeds or other means for business. That indicates that they invested in their future,” Petr Drbohlav explained. Thank to small grants, 56 % of small enterprises arose and 44 % improved their businesses.
People in Need in Sri Lanka:
People in Need has been working in Sri Lanka since the beginning of the year 2005 when the island was struck by a destroying tsunami. The East Province, mostly the district of Trincomalee where the catastrophe even multiplied the unfavourable effects caused by the lengthy conflict, was determined as the main area where aid was needed. The stress on long-term development projects, mainly in the sectors of good governance, nutrition sources, agriculture and education, was added to the projects of reconstruction. After the end of the war conflict on the East, People in Need also joined the reconstruction and help the people in the war-afflicted areas. In the last months, People in Need has focused on the promotion of domestic biodigesters as sources of renewable energy.
For more information please contact:
Jan Mrkvička, PIN Relief and Development Department Director, +420 777 787 961
Petr Drbohlav, PIN Regional Desk Officer for Asia, +420 724 329 285