Alternative livelihoods for conflict-affected communities
Livelihoods Enterprise Development Services (LEDS)
North East Coastal Community Development Project
Duration: 2005 - 2009
Villages in the east of Sri Lanka have been badly affected by the civil war - whole communities have been displaced, severely affecting them economically. They have lived in areas that were until recently occupied by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), and have therefore received little or no development aid.
Practical Action is working with 74 villages in Batticalaoe district, working with the most marginalised - people who have recently been re-settled, but have little or no resources or finances. The aim is to provide alternative livelihood options for them and technological training to enable them to become self-sufficient.
Training and alternative livelihoods
During the fighting, fields were damaged, and water tanks and irrigation were destroyed, so currently there is little water available. We have been working with paddy farmers to grow different rice varieties that need less water.
As much of the paddy fields are now destroyed, farmers need an additional income as there is only enough land to farm part-time. In Muthulaikudah, many people rely on brick manufacturing for their livelihood. Practical Action is piloting an energy-efficient brick kiln with 20 brick manufacturers from the community, with a view to replicating this technology in other villages in the district.
As a result of the new, the brickmakers are now able to make bricks in the rainy season, ssomething that was previously difficult to do. In the rainy season, as there is little production, brickmakers can secure higher process for their goods.
In some areas, people used to collect wild honey from the jungle. As the jungle is no longer safe, they have been trained as bee keepers. Practical Action has also provided training in cattle management, livestock training, improving breeds, dairy training.
We have been helping communities to improve the quality of their products, and their ability to sell at markets.
Pottery has been a home-based industry in the village of Naripulthottam for 40 years. However due to their displacement, all their tools and materials were stolen or destroyed. We are working with 20 female potters, whose husbands are paddy farmers or fishermen. Practical Action has helped them to rebuild their businesses, and introduced new potters wheels. Using less clay, these create thinner, better quality pots that can be more readily sold at town markets, selling for four times as much as hand-thrown pots.
Working as a group has enabled them to get better prices for the clay. They plan to reinvest their profits to repair the roof of the old classroom they work in, so that they can work in the rainy season.
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