Sri Lanka

After the end of a 25-year ethnic conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka is ready to move forward on its long-term development plan to reduce poverty. The country ranks 92 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index.

Pockets of deep poverty persist in the plantation areas in central Sri Lanka and in the former conflict areas in the east and north. Unemployment is high, especially among women and youth. Following the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009, approximately 270,000 civilians were displaced from their homes. The majority of these displaced people have returned to their home areas; however, many continue to need humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, and the extensive damage caused by the conflict means they face significant barriers to earning a living. In addition, the country is prone to frequent natural disasters such as floods, drought and landslides.

Sri Lanka is a parliamentary democracy, although governance and the rule of law are weak. Since 2010, the country has maintained relatively high levels of growth, spurred by private sector demand, and Sri Lanka has become a middle-income country. Consumer and investor confidence is higher and tourism has strongly rebounded.

Despite the longstanding conflict, Sri Lanka has made good progress in health and education, as well as in food self-sufficiency. Women take an active role in livestock production, forest-resource use and fishery processing and are important to Sri Lanka's future economic development.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in Sri Lanka.

Thematic focus

The goal of Canada bilateral international development assistance program in Sri Lanka is to continue to promote equitable and sustainable economic growth in a post-conflict environment while also emphasizing the important role of human rights in reducing poverty.

Economic growth

Canada supports efforts to:

  • Increase skills for employment
  • Develop small agricultural businesses
  • Improve the business climate
  • Increase women's access to economic assets and jobs

This effort includes support for developing and rebuilding small-scale agriculture and infrastructure, including irrigation systems, rural access roads, and agricultural storage and processing facilities. Canada's program also helps internally displaced people return to their villages.

Key anticipated results

  • Some 30,000 poor and returning displaced people will have better access to economic opportunities and assets such as credit, equipment and land
  • Some 20 public and private institutions will be newly certified to provide vocational training to poor and internally displaced populations

Democratic governance

Canada will help improve human rights in Sri Lanka by supporting the implementation of Sri Lanka's official language policy. This policy will help minority groups to access social services such as health, education and police protection in their own language.

Democratic governance is one of the Government of Canada's five priority themes for international development assistance.

Key anticipated results

  • More than 100,000 returning displaced people will have improved access to social services in their own language
  • Some 75,000 civil servants and some 6,000 frontline staff such as receptionists, telephone operators, and clerks, will be trained and able to provide improved government services in both official languages, i.e. Sinhala and Tamil
  • More than 2,000 plantation workers will receive national identity cards

Progress on aid effectiveness

Sri Lanka endorsed the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages). Canada and other bilateral donors do not provide funding directly to the Government of Sri Lanka. Donors, however, have developed a common set of principles to guide their work in Sri Lanka and conduct joint evaluations where feasible.



Achievements 2010-2012

Economic growth

  • Helped more than 3,000 Sri Lankans in remote villages—nearly 90 percent women—increase their incomes by approximately 40 percent
  • Since 2009, some 2,574 marginalized students—30 percent women—have received technical and vocational training. Monthly wages have increased 510 percent for men and 340 percent for women
  • In two districts, nearly 6,000 households have received agricultural inputs (fruit trees) and an additional 1,200 have received livestock to help rebuild their livelihoods

Democratic governance

Helped 768 plantation workers in central Sri Lanka obtain national identity cards, improving their access to services available to all citizens.


Achievements 2009-2010

Economic growth

  • Helped increase incomes of poor and returning displaced person members of 57 community groups in four regions by 20 percent
  • Provided 10,386 Sri Lankans—more than one third, women—with vocational training
  • Helped 40 local vocational training providers gain certification, register with the Technical and Vocational Education Commission and provide nationally accredited training

Democratic governance

  • Helped 768 plantation workers in Central Sri Lanka obtain national identity cards, improving their access to services available to all citizens

By working with Canadian and international partners, Canada is working to improve the health and rights of women and children globally, which includes the country of Sri Lanka.

Map of international development projects in Asia Pacific

Map of international development projects in Asia Pacific

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to Sri Lanka (in millions of dollars)

Global Affairs Canada9.48
Other departments and sources0.59