Results around the world – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a lower-middle-income country that has made considerable progress in reducing poverty in recent years. Despite overall economic progress and relatively good health and educational standards, Sri Lanka’s development gains are uneven. There are significant regional disparities, with pockets of poverty, particularly in northern and eastern areas. In addition, competitiveness and economic growth are constrained by relatively low foreign direct investment and trade, high public debt, a shortage of skilled workers, low productivity, youth unemployment and the declining participation of women in the labour force. Regular droughts and flooding require periodic humanitarian responses for affected populations and pose a risk to economic output.  

Although Sri Lanka’s internal armed conflict ended in 2009, the country faces ongoing challenges for achieving long-term reconciliation and peace. The challenges include building stable and inclusive systems of governance, strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights, and addressing the needs and concerns of those in conflict-affected areas. Women and girls face unique challenges, including a high incidence of sexual and gender-based violence and socio-cultural barriers to achieving economic and political empowerment. Women’s rights organizations at the local level also lack the resources to engage effectively in advocacy.

In addition to support for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, Canada’s programming supports inclusive governance, reconciliation, and growth that works for everyone in Sri Lanka. Supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is also central to Canada’s programming approach.

Key results

Canada has been supporting the Agro-economic Development Project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in three districts of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. By the project’s completion in December 2017, 18 producer organizations representing 13,744 members (3,628 women) increased agricultural production through the provision of business development services, technical skills development and agricultural inputs, with sales increasing by 76%.

Canada’s ongoing support to the Advancing Specialized Skills for Economic Transformation project, implemented by World University Services of Canada, has strengthened the vocational skills of 4,221 youth (1,460 women) and resulted in 3,243 private sector job placements (891 for women).

Canadian funding to The HALO Trust for the Mine Clearance for Resettlement and Restoring Livelihoods project has resulted in the clearance of 144,325 square metres of minefields, with the cleared land to be used for residential and agricultural purposes.

Canadian support for Equitas resulted in increased capacity of community leaders and educators to deliver programs for children and youth aimed at the promotion of religious harmony and prevention of conflict.

In 2017-2018, through Canada’s Volunteer Cooperation Program and WUSC and CECI’s Uniterra program, 34 volunteers were sent to Sri Lanka to help local organizations improve the status of women. Workshops on gender-sensitive workplaces and reducing gender-based violence on tea plantations have helped local partners develop gender equality strategies, improve their understanding of gender equality concepts, and become catalysts for change.

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