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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2678

CARE International cares estate workers

By Quintus Perera

Ms J Sathyawany, a small-made Tamil - a Norwood Estate Female volunteer was there at JAIC Hilton Hotel to describe what good, she and her community in the estate sector has obtained through CARE International Sri Lanka with several other organizations.

Though her speech was part of the program in the Plantation Community Empowerment Project that would be implemented by CARE International – Sri Lanka, her narration carried a deeper sense of oppression and segregation of their minority community, due to the present security arrangements.

She said that after her education she found a job in Colombo. But, due to the present security maintenance in the City she found it incorrigible to stay in Colombo. Therefore she was forced to leave Colombo and again settle down in the estate sector. This is indicative of no grass roots level concrete peace moves between the two communities.

Nick Osborne, Country Director, Care International Sri Lanka, at the inauguration of the Project said that it was very important for them and their partners of this project where the stakeholders are management of plantation human development fund, management of regional plantation companies, management of tea estates, members of the estate community, European Union and donors, Ethical Tea Partnership.

He said that CARE has been in Sri Lanka for the last 58 years and they have made significant improvements of their work here. They have been working with the Ministries of Education, Health etc.

He said that they have established 1956 and focused on providing food and working on issues related to maternal and child health and then with the changing needs of the country in early 1990s CARE began increasingly shift its focus to the basic needs and also of the root causes of poverty and marginalization.

He said that CARE in Sri Lanka now looks at wider spectrum of root causes of poverty vulnerability, marginalization and exclusion as part of its efforts to ensure that its programming is relevant, effective and sustainable.

Dr Susil Liyanarachchi, Director of Programmes, CARE Sri Lanka elaborating the Project "Plantation Community Empowerment" (PCEP) said that building on its experiences they will implement the PCEP with the aim of further contributing to the wellbeing of the estate community and improving the tea industry.

The associate partners of the project include the Bogwantalawa Tea Estate Ltd and the Regional Plantations Companies of Watawala and Kotagala Ltd. He said the project will be implemented over a period of three years in 13 estates managed by the above companies. The primary beneficiaries of the project will be an estimated 26,400 estate workers and community members.

He said that the Project would make three major interventions such as formation and strengthening community development forums as the key structure for planning and implementation of social development; assistance to Regional Plantation Companies to work towards ethical tea trade certification using the results of CDF and other interventions and setting up of Trust Funds at estates managed by CDFs for social welfare and well being according to agreed plans.

The project is implemented in partnership with Plantation Human Development Trust and funded by the European Union, Ethical Tea Partnership and TEAVANA.

CARE International Sri Lanka (CARE) was established in 1950 with a focus on food security and improving maternal and child health. Today, CARE works to address the root causes of poverty and marginalization of vulnerable groups by building the skills of local communities and promoting good governance within both government and community organizations.

CARE’s integrated programme in Sri Lanka focuses on three main target groups in specific geographic areas: poor rural communities in the dry zone; conflict-affected populations in the north and east; and residents of Sri Lanka’s tea, rubber and coconut plantations.

The tea, rubber and coconut plantation sector is the largest employer in Sri Lanka employing nearly 20 percent of the working population, 800,000 people live in tea rubber and coconut estates. Plantation workers are some of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Sri Lanka, largely because of their reliance on the estates where they live. CARE works with plantation workers and management and local government to improve living conditions for people living on the estates: jointly define their problems and reach solutions: and faster greater empowerment and self-reliance of estate workers.

Nearly two thirds of Sri Lanka falls into the dry zone sector an area with low annual rainfall and pronounced dry season. There are nine districts that fall completely within the dry zone: Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Jaffna, Trincomalee, Kilinochchi, Mulaitivu, Batticaloa, Polonnaruwa and Mannar. In addition there are four districts in which a major portion of their area falls within the dry zone: Moneragala, Hambantota, Ampara and Puttalam.

The dry zone is predominantly rural, with many households relying on agriculture for their livelihoods; however, the contribution that agriculture makes to household income is declining and unemployment and poverty are on the rise. CARE works with rural households to improve agricultural activities, from pre-production planning to post harvest technologies and marketing of crops.

Care has extensive experience implementing long term development and relief programmes in conflict affected areas of north and east Sri Lanka. CARE programmes works primarily to address the longer term development needs of people in conflict affected areas. In areas where communities have resettled and there is reasonable degree of normality CARE assists families to rebuild their livelihoods and strengthens the capacity or government agencies, non-governmental organizations and community based organizations to meet the needs of their communities.

CARE provides immediate emergency assistance in the aftermath of a disaster and works with communities in the long term to help them recover and rebuild infrastructure, livelihoods and shelter. CARE targets the most vulnerable groups, especially women headed households, and works with communities to prepare for and mitigate the risk of future disasters.

-Asian Tribune-

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