Disaster-resistant sustainable livelihoods
Livelihood rebuilding is a long and exhaustive process. But, in post disasters situations, like the one faced after the tsunami, where almost 250,000 people lost their means of sustenance, humanitarian agencies often engage in rapid recovery of the rebuilding of livelihoods. This urgency shown by a number of well-meaning organisations led to a complex situation where funds were available in plenty, but had to be used in specified deadlines, which further aggravated chaos due to lack of
coordination. The complexity of the situation didn't allow the implementing organisations to pay any heed to the identification of community needs. As a result, despite an overflow of capacity building and equipment distribution activities, the outcome was not very useful and effective in reconstructing the livelihoods as the other major assets - financial, social and human were ignored. There was also severe duplication of efforts.
Practical Action, based on its years of experience, and reflecting on the lessons learnt from other partner organisations working in different countries in similar circumstances, came up with the model of a livelihood business channel - the Rural Business Incubation Centre (RBIC), which focused on creating the required environment for the propagation of different sustainable livelihood channels through participatory tools, and in the process endeavoured to identify the issues that could be raised and addressed at the policy level.
Four RBIC's were established, where nearly 475 micro level entrepreneurs got assistance to set up microenterprises.
- RBIC's now also act as business development service providers and some like the Kudawella Centre have already started generating funds for center sustenance.
- RADA requested Practical Action to use this experience in preparing divisional livelihood development plans for Hambantota and Ampara districts and have changed many aspects of its original formats for the plans.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also adapted Practical Action's approach of community participation in rebuilding the livelihoods at Maradamunai in repairing handlooms.
- 3 products such as coir, food processing and cloth weaving were identified for livelihood development by the communities.
- Training on coir handicraft making and handmade paper products were conducted for Wilpotha Women's Organization - Puttlam 5 persons engaged in paper making / stationery
The current areas of work include piloting appropriate approaches for the post disaster revival in micro-enterprises which will result in
- Information such as the rehabilitation and development plans of government and non-government organisation which affect communities lives and livelihoods, easily accessible by communities
- Greater market literacy
- Greater participation in livelihood planning related events (eg. Participatory Market Chain Analysis)
- New businesses and business partnerships established in the market chains of selected sectors
- Tsunami-affected men, women and differently-abled people have access to sustainable markets for their products
- Tsunami-affected men, women and differently-abled people able to adopt new and alternative livelihood options and diversify existing micro businesses
- Increase access to business services
- Increases in the household savings and the ability to rebuild household assets following their loss in the tsunami
- Alternative livelihood options will increase income security of tsunami/conflict affected communities