EU supports housing, entrepreneurship in north-east Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – The European Union has launched a three-year project to support war-affected people in Sri Lanka’s north and east to build new homes and businesses and revive the region’s economy.

The project, by the EU’s Habitat for Humanity initiative, will benefit more than 300, 000 people in nine selected divisions of the Killinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa districts, a statement said.

The EU is giving a grant of 14 million euros for the project to build houses and improve community infrastructure for internally displaced people and returnees during 2016-2018.

“At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that housing is not a product but a process,” said Greg Foster, Area Vice President for Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa.

It is not enough to build houses but important to turn them into homes and empower homeowners to transition from poverty and dependency to independence and self-sufficiency, he said.

“We want to show them a way out of poverty and unlock their entrepreneurship.” Foster said.

The latest initiative follows on an earlier housing programmes for which the European Union contributed with 50 million euros in the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Batticaloa.

Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives David Daly said the project contributes to a “sustainable solution” for returnee families with the aim of improving their living conditions and social cohesion of their host communities.

“This is not just an infrastructure project, but an initiative that will contribute to livelihood support through skills development and loan facilities to help people build towards a more hopeful future," he said.

The initiative aims to construct houses for almost 16 000 people in cooperation with World Vision Lanka with vulnerable families getting supplements for loan repayments to minimise debt.

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Habitat for Humanity will provide vocational and skills development training to households, persons active in the trade sector and youth in construction related services.

The project also provides support to the domestic economy by sourcing all building material locally.
 (Colombo/December 07 2015)
 

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