PARIS [ACTED News] – Humanitarian emergencies and crises damage the social fabric of communities, thus compromising local capacity to have a say in decisions which affect them directly, and isolating them from central government decisions. Inclusive and effectively functioning community organisations are essential to achieve sustainable reintegration, rehabilitation and development which address community needs, as they are perceived by the people, and they need to be involved in the decision-making process. Empowering and increasing the capacities of community members to work together, identify needs, solve problems, and meet their own goals, can have a multiplier effect that expands the benefits of local development. In turn, local management of development issues can favour more efficient and sustainable development.
Conflict-affected population empowerment in Sri Lanka
ACTED launched its operations in Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of the December 2004 tsunami. Interventions in 2005 and early 2006 were focused on providing relief and rehabilitation to tsunami-affected populations. During the conflict lasting from 2006 to 2009, ACTED provided emergency services and critical basic needs to conflict-affected Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in camps in first the East and then the North. Following the end of the conflict and the return of IDPs to their areas of origin, ACTED adapted its strategy to the rehabilitation of these areas, combined with long-term development activities. In January 2012 ACTED started a new 26 month project in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka called "Community Driven Development and Pro-Poor Economic Growth for Conflict-Affected Populations in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka”, with support from the European Union. This project aims to contribute to the sustainable rehabilitation of the North and East by providing for the reconstruction and livelihood needs of communities while also strengthening local civil society organizations and local authorities to engage in local development management and advocate for better public service delivery. In Mullaitivu district, ACTED works with 15 communities with a total population of 4,700 people.