A helping hand for a life with dignity: 176 Resettled families Benefit from livelihood assistance

A helping hand for a life with dignity: 176 resettled families benefit from livelihood assistanceThe conflict in Sri Lanka displaced thousands of people in the northern districts. While affected civilians have returned or are returning to their villages in the devastated northern districts of Sri Lanka, they still have no or very limited resources to cope with the multifold challenges of day to day life. Key humanitarian requirements like reconstruction efforts are being addressed, but other smaller but unmet and urgent needs remain on the ground, which need to be addressed. Above all the returnees need support to restore their livelihoods and stabilize their income sources. To this end Switzerland recently provided small grants to 176 families to establish a livelihood of their own choice.With the expansion of the housing programme in 2011, SDC supported seventy fivehouses in the divisions of Kaithadi/Navatkuli and Thanankilappu in the Jaffna district. In order to follow a holistic approach to support returnees not only with permanent housing, SDC implemented a livelihood programme for the housing beneficiaries and vulnerable households in the project areas. Therefore 176 fully resettled families who were desperately in need of financial assistance to restore or begin an income generating activity were selected. 26 of these are women headed families and seven of them are single women. Each beneficiary received a cash grant of 50,000/- irrespective of their livelihood option. A majority of them were already engaged in some kind of income generating activities before the war broke out and thus the financial assistance was beneficial for them to develop their existing trade.

Sinnakkuddy & Uthayakumar Kumuthini
Vairavan Vilvarasa
“I am so happy we now have a proper house, and I am now able to earn some
money again to help my children complete their studies well”
                           – Shanmugarasa Pushparani, a 33 year old mother of four
Pushparani has three daughters and one son who are still in school. Her husband is a carpenter in Jaffna and she runs a small grocery shop from her home. Additionally she rears poultry and also prepares various snacks which she sells at her shop. Originally from Kaithadi Navatkuli, she and her family were displaced in 1999 and during the 12 years of displacement they lived with various relations. In 2011 they returned to their village but only to find that their house was completely destroyed, along with the small shop she used to run prior to displacement.After receiving housing and livelihood assistance from SDC they now have a permanent shelter as well as a regular income source. With the cash grant of Rs. 50,000 she re-built her shop and stocked it well with goods and she also bought 25 chickens. Pushparani runs the only shop in the area and with public transport being minimal about 20 households in the vicinity solely depend on her shop for their grocery items. She manages the shop by herself and travels to the closest town Chavakachcheri town to purchase goods and brings it back by bus. Thus she is able to make a profit of around Rs. 200 a day from sales.  Soon she will also gain an additional income when the chickens start laying eggs.Hope
She looks to the future with hope. While being displaced she had earned some money by undertaking dressmaking orders. She would like to purchase a sewing machine and resume this as an additional source of income.

The beneficiaries selected livelihoods ranging from paddy cultivation, horticulture, backyard poultry, broiler rearing, goat rearing, cattle rearing, fishing, small shops, sewing machines, masonry items, carpentry items, cycle repair shops, ironsmith work and fancy shop items to joint purchasing of a two wheel tractor and leasing out a three wheeler. Everyone received Rs. 30,000/- as first payment and based on the progress, the second payment of Rs. 20,000/-. Except for one beneficiary all the others received the full payment.

Luxmanan Logan
Kathiran Shanmugam & Shanmugam Sabeskuma jointly bought a Trisha

“My children have a place to stay and better food to eat”
                                                            – Rasa Selvarani a 44 year old widowSelvarani lost her husband during the last stages of the conflict in 2009. She and her family ended up in the Menik Farm IDP camp for nine months and finally returned to their village in Kaithadi, Navatkuli, Jaffna in 2010 after being displaced for more than 10 years. She is a mother of eight, six girls and two boys. One of her daughters, an ex-rebel cadre was injured during the fighting and was later abandoned by her husband; released from a detention camp after rehabilitation she now lives with Selvarani. Another daughter is currently working as a deminer at Nagarkovil while one son is working as a mason. The youngest three are still schooling.Selvarani has only attended school up to 10 years of age (Grade 05), and currently her sole income is derived through poultry rearing. The family lost their house and property during the conflict and after their return Selvarani became a beneficiary for the SDC cash for housing programme.  With the help of her two elder sons she built a permanent house with 3 rooms, a kitchen and a living room. In addition to housing assistance, Selvarani also benefitted with financial support for her livelihood. With the cash grant of Rs. 50,000 she purchased 30 chickens. She now collects around 15 eggs a day and sells each egg for around Rs. 15.She says she is very happy with the substantial income she makes regularly. She has taken a loan of Rs. 200,000 to complete the house (in addition to SDC’s contribution) which she is able to pay back every month in installments, with some of her earnings. One of her daughters also received livelihood assistance from SDC and purchased 4 cows; she also contributes to the family expenses.

Networking with partners
SDC has been implementing and funding projects in the north for many years now and has a good relationship with partner agencies. On a request of the women folk of Thanankilappu, SDC partnered with PARC Inter Peoples’ Cooperation (PARCIC) Jaffna, to conduct a hygienic dry fish preparation workshop to 35 fishermen and women. The Thanankilappu area is not close to the deep sea but is situated adjacent to a lagoon and certain freshwater fish can be dried and preserved for selling at a better price. PARCIC staff had been trained on this method by a specialist from Japan and their staff conducted this work shop free of cost.

The intervention was carried out in close cooperation with the relevant government officials from theDepartments of Agriculture and Fisheries, in addition to coordinating with Divisional and village level officers to streamline activities. Farmer organizations and community centres in the villages were utilized to assist in distributing assistance packages and help monitor activities. A needs assessment which was conducted at the outset of the project helped to identify opportunities for linking communities with local markets to help strengthen livelihoods of the target group.

Once the beneficiaries were selected, the names were pasted at five places in the village. Five days were allocated as a grievance period to address complaints from the local public. The final beneficiary lists were signed by the village officer and endorsed by the Divisional Secretary later on. These lists were circulated among the village households to ensure their beneficiary entitlement.  

Long term benefits
The main livelihood in this area is rain fed paddy cultivation which yields a crop only once a year and farmers thus receive one annual income. They used the cash grants to purchase seedlings, fertilizer and labour to prepare the ground for the crops. Though they have to wait for the harvest season to gain an income the beneficiaries expressed that the cash grants have enabled them to manage their affairs without depending on usurious money lenders.