September 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka : With funding from the Government of Japan, UN-Habitat has supported 180,000 people in 120 villages in Sri Lanka’s Northern districts to construct community infrastructure facilities.
Commencing in March 2013, the “Project for Rehabilitation of Community Infrastructure and Facilities in the Conflict Affected Areas in the Northern Province” was implemented by UN-Habitat in collaboration with the Government of Sri Lanka, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and community members in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. Concluding in June 2015, the project assisted communities to construct 29 community centres, 22 preschools, install 62 public Rain Water Harvesting Systems and rehabilitate 95 km of internal access roads and 6 km of storm water drainage systems.
UN-Habitat implemented the project using a participatory people’s process that places community members at the centre of the development of their village. Priority infrastructure needs were identified by the beneficiaries themselves at Community Action Planning Workshops facilitated by UN-Habitat in each village.
Mr. Mahendiaran, from Thiruvaiyaru village in Kilinochchi, where a new community centre was constructed, said “We were resettled in our village in 2010 without any basic facilities. We had no place for community gatherings and no opportunities for young people to socialise. This project has helped to bring normal life back to our village. On behalf of our village, our sincere gratitude to the Japanese Government for providing funding and to UN-Habitat for their continuous support.”
The infrastructure facilities including preschools, community centres and roads have been constructed through Community Based Organisations in each village. Technical assistance on construction was provided by UN-Habitat including the design of type plans, developing bills of quantities and providing advice on disaster risk reduction construction practices and sourcing quality building materials.
Mr. Chandrabalan, Grama Niladhari of Malayalapuram village in Kilinochchi where an internal access road was rehabilitated, said “This timely assistance has helped us access the neighbouring villages, town centres and market places more easily. It has also helped to enhance cohesion in the village and build capacity of our village Rural Development Society.”
The main components of the project were the rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged or destroyed small community infrastructure including internal access roads, community based water supply facilities, multipurpose community centres and construction of rainwater harvesting facilities, improvement of access to pre-education, empowerment of women in leadership roles and decision making, enhancement of capacities within communities and Government partners for improved service delivery and improving the environment and promoting disaster and climate resilience among communities.
Ms. Sivananthan Mangaleswari, preschool teacher of the Sivanagar village preschool in Mullaitivu, is delighted with the new preschool building and facilities. “Despite numerous difficulties, parents give priority to their children’s education. I have seen children facing many hardships as the village preschool did not have proper facilities. I am grateful to the Government of Japan for providing us with the funding for the preschool” she stated.
The second phase of the Japanese-funded project, “Rehabilitation of Community Infrastructure, Improvement of Livelihoods and Empowerment of Women in the Northern and Eastern Provinces” is now underway in the districts of Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa. Commenting on the overall programme, Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka stated “UN-Habitat Sri Lanka has been a trusted partner of the Government of Japan. By March 2016, through the post conflict infrastructure programme, the Government of Japan will have supported over 250,000 Sri Lankan people with access to community infrastructure facilities, with a grant of 722,000,000 Japanese Yen (US$ 7,268,005). We highly appreciate the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka, UN-Habitat and the community members in rebuilding conflict affected villages with such commitment and dedication.”