ECONOMYNEXT - The European Union will give a grant of Rs5.4 billion for programs to reduce poverty in Sri Lanka’s central hills, aiming particularly at improving opportunities for women entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises.
The programmes to reduce poverty in Uva and Central Provinces would be one of the largest programmes of EU development support in Sri Lanka, a statement said.
The money will help reduce poverty in the provinces by improving the income of poor people living in rural areas and helping to ensure that they have enough food to eat, even in times of hardship, the EU embassy said.
"This programme has been designed with the needs of the poorest in mind,” Tung-Lai Margue, the Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, said.
“From better water and sanitation to increasing technical knowledge and empowering women, people in these rural areas should see a marked improvement in their lives.”
The EU will partner with both the government of Sri Lanka and a number of civil society organisations in this initiative.
This grant, which is a part of the EU's wider programme of support to rural development in Sri Lanka, will benefit rural communities in the Monaragala, Badulla, Nuwara Eliya and Matale Districts.
The programme is expected to be operational for five years, from 2017 to 2022 and will be implemented by five partner organsiations.
CARE will assist in establishing and strengthening SMEs that are led by women and youth from rural and estate communities.
“In addition, they will aim to increase their participation in decision making around employment creation, business development and economic growth of the rural and estate sectors,” the statement said.
ACTED will aim to create jobs and increase income levels by building capacity and bringing value-addition to local farming SMEs, specifically targeting women-led businesses in dairy, vegetables, floriculture, fruits and spice value chains.
“Additionally, the project will promote a business enabling environment for SMEs, by strengthening local business support services and engaging local governance actors in integrated, climate-resilient and inclusive coordination mechanisms and economic development planning.”
Oxfam's work will entail improving income and providing work opportunities. In addition, emphasis will be put on integrating women in economic activities.
Activities include increasing veterinary services and dairy markets, improving potato seeds, cinnamon and cocoa production.
“The project will train civil society organisations and local government authorities to better engage in policy discussions on how to support entrepreneurs,” the EU embassy said.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency and Stichting Solidaridad, will work with the rural and estate communities to increase access to water and sanitation facilities, improve personal hygiene and sanitation practices, and strengthen public authorities.
(COLOMBO, November 14, 2017)