Sri Lanka President in multi-pronged initiative to uplift rural villages

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena is driving a multi-pronged initiative to reduce poverty, combat narcotics use, protect the environment and cut the risk of kidney disease in up to 1,000 remote villages across the country, officials said.

The program under the banner of ‘Grama Shakthi’ is implemented in partnership with private and community partners across the country, President’s Secretary Austin Fernando said.

One thousand villages from among the poorest areas in the country had already been identified, he said.

Rural infrastructure such as village tanks will also be developed, including in the north of the island.

On May 21, President Sirisena will have a progress meeting in Badulla, with officials to monitor the programs.

Additional Secretary Jayantha Wijeratne said while overall poverty was now down to 6-7 percent, there was section of lower middle income households that was vulnerable to slipping back into poverty, in times of crisis like a drought.

There was a program to promote agri-business and food production.

Companies will be established in villages so that they can work with private companies, he said.

"Many private companies have come forward to support the program," Wijeratne said.

Fernando said the programs are expected to re-inforce programs conducted by the respective ministries.





The Presidential Secretariat, also had funds which could be disbursed to fill gaps, he said.

Wijeratne said the President’s office will give ‘policy leadership’ for the initiatives.

Officials said the Presidential Secretariat will play a co-ordinating role.

Studies carried out will also give insights for future policy of the government, Secretary Fernando said.

In the program to combat chronic kidney disease, there was a need for agriculture, water supply and health ministries to work closely together, which was being co-ordinated by the secretariat.

The ‘Grama Shakthi’ involves 12 programs, which includes helping the disabled, schools and cultural renewals. (Colombo/May17/2018)

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