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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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