Mullaitivu District Secy wants NGOs to prioritise infrastructure development

ECONOMYNEXT – Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) must be allowed to provide “soft skills” to Sri Lankans unhindered the National Peace Council said in a statement issued Friday.

The statement follows a set of guidelines issued by the Mullaitivu District Secretariat to all non-governmental organisations working in the district which EconomyNext has seen saying “their work should be focused on infrastructure development and not on soft skill training.”

The letter signed by K Kanakeswarwan Additional District Secretary says that the NGOs should reduce training provided in “women’s empowerment, child rights, youth training, human rights, land rights training, and the formation and strengthening of self-help groups.”

The district secretariat has said that action plans of organisations that contain “less than 70 per cent of physical infrastructure activities, such as the construction of rural roads, wells and preschools, will not receive its approval.”

The NPC observes that these “may be an indication of the district’s needs rather than a policy statement.”

The NPC points out that “not all NGOs are service delivery ones which engage in infrastructure development.  Through their soft skills trainings NGOs, not only in Sri Lanka but worldwide, seek to create awareness in the general population of their rights and responsibilities in relation to one another, the state and the larger community.”

The NPC notes that the government is mindful of the ground realities as represented in the webpage of the Batticaloa District Secretariat in another former war zone that observes its “foremost duty is ensuring harmonious relationship among the different communities in the District.” 

In this context, the NPC said we affirm that “soft skills programmes are also important and those organisations that wish to focus on them need to be provided with the space to do so unhindered in keeping with the president’s vision articulated in his Independence Day speech and the Foreign Minister statement in Geneva at the ongoing UNHRC session.”  (Colombo, March 6, 2020)

-Arjuna Ranawana

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