Support to mine action:
UNDP’s support has been instrumental in establishing the National Mine Action Centre and in leading mine action standards and policy setting, while support to mine action quality assurance and coordination is the critical enabler for safe resettlement. By December 2011, UNDP had facilitated the clearance of 41.53 km2 or 13.84% of Confirmed Hazardous Areas, allowing for the release of lands available for housing, farming, access to fishing, schools, railroads, places of worship and tourist destinations. In the future, UNDP will focus intensively on transferring its mine action management responsibilities to the Sri Lankan government by end 2013.
As Cluster Lead for Early Recovery, UNDP has assisted district government officials UN agencies, international Non-Governmental Organizations and other Non-Governmental Organizations to coordinate their work to increase aid-effectiveness and reduce assistance gaps. Standardized livelihood assistance packages were developed in the Northern districts, ensuring equitable assistance to beneficiaries.
Socio-economic development of conflict-affected communities
In the aftermath of the conflict, UNDP helped communities establish productive livelihoods and rebuild small-scale infrastructure. UNDP’s Transition Recovery Programme supports communities through area-based recovery and development assistance. Using community-based approaches and working with local-level government and civil society, UNDP has given power to local communities to identify, plan and carry-out their own community development while at the same time, using these activities as vehicles for bringing people together and increasing the participation of excluded groups like women and youth.
Over the period 2008-11, more than 12,000 persons have been reached through livelihood assistance, which includes providing access to productive inputs, skills trainings, equipment and vital infrastructure. Of those who received assistance, 90% started their activities within six months. Around 95% of those granted micro-enterprise loans started businesses within three months. In addition, UNDP supported the construction of 509 facilities such as milk processing factories, reaching over 80,000 people, as well as 171 social infrastructure units, such as community centers, benefiting 36,000 people.
With the former conflict-affected areas gradually moving from relief to resettlement and recovery, challenges remain in consolidating income-generation activities, regenerating local economic development, building links to markets and ensuring the equity of support in order to prevent the emergence of new grievances. There will be less emphasis on local interventions and more on bringing partners together, such as connecting buyers with new sources of supply. UNDP aims to be a channel through which donors participate in the investment to the benefit of both private companies and small producers, thus brokering partnerships for sustainable development, between rural, conflict-affected agricultural producers and the country’s supermarket chains.
Supporting reconciliation among conflict-affected communities
UNDP’s approach to local economic development continues to look at how such activities can be used as vehicle for bringing people together and increasing the participation of excluded groups like women and children.
With the conflict having restricted opportunities for interaction between people from Sri Lanka’s North, East and South, in promoting reconciliation, UNDP brought together over 1,000 children from 54 schools across 12 districts in Sri Lanka through the schools twinning programme. The Ministry of Education later became a formal partner to the schools twinning programme. Following the programme, schools and larger communities have initiated and funded their own exchange activities between different schools and communities. UNDP will continue using its recovery work as entry points for peacebuilding between communities kept apart by war, and scale-up select initiatives such as the schools twinning to have a greater impact on post-war reconciliation.
Ensuring that the communities affected by conflict are better able to access services is also a key focus. Supporting efforts for these communities to obtain vital legal documentation, such as birth, marriage and death certificates will be continued. Since 2009, over 100,000 people have applied for vital legal documentation through mobile clinics held in the North, East and the plantation sectors. The documentation clinics act as a ‘one-stop shop’ allowing people to meet relevant governance officials from Colombo, receive support to complete application forms, secure endorsement of their personal details from their Grama Niladhari officer (village leader), register missing documents and have their identity card photographs taken.
Reintegration of ex-combatants
UNDP’s reintegration work has included providing technical support to the Sri Lankan Government to formulate a National Action Plan for assisting the socio-economic reintegration of former cadres into civilian life in the country.
Recognizing the crucial role that women play in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction, since 2010 UNDP began supporting a women’s leadership programme with management and networking skills training and seed-funding for 30 potential women leaders in Ampara, a district affected by the war and tsunami. One of the women successfully contested local elections and became the first female representative for her area. All 30 women are now part of their local governance structures, and play a part advising on policies and budgets for women's development initiatives. By bringing together women from different social, economic and ethnic backgrounds, the initiative is proving to be an effective tool for social integration.
UNDP has enabled conflict-affected communities to become more resilient by engaging in village-level planning, building cyclone- and flood-resistant houses and improving their capacity to respond to disasters.
UNDP has provided technical assistance and training to strengthen the National Disaster Management Centre. This includes support to the establishment of a 65-member National Disaster Management Coordinating Committee, a platform which serves as the hub for disaster risk management activities in the country. For example, members of the Committee share their programmes and experiences, have collaborated on educational material and have provided inputs to the 2005 Disaster Management Act. The National Emergency Operations Procedures that involve over 30 agencies dealing with over 25 disasters will be completed in 2013 with UNDP’s support. The updated Disaster Management Policy of Sri Lanka to be released in 2013 will have a higher emphasis on risk reduction and risk transfer.
The percentage death out of the number of people affected due to natural disasters decreased from 0.04 percent to less than 0.01 percent between 2003 and 2012 as a result of improved disaster preparedness in the country. However the damages due to disasters are still on the rise.
UNDP will continue to promote disaster risk reduction in all development processes. This will include developing hazard profiles and environmental assessments and resilient building designs as well as policy dialogue and awareness campaigns. UNDP will also help universities and schools incorporate disaster management into their curricular and to develop graduate and undergraduate courses.