Strengthening Community Service Organizations in Batticaloa District
"I have been living in the Ilupaddcihenai village for the last 18 years. I have 9 members in my family including 4 sons and 3 daughters. My house was very small and I faced many difficulties living in the small cottage with all my family members,” says 45 years old Supramaniyam Nesakumar.
According to Nesakumar he and his family were pushed into a life of poverty and hardship because of the multiple displacements in his area. Having been displaced in 2007, the family spent a long time in the Palacholai Chenkalady IDP camp. When Nesakumar and his family returned home they were devastated to find their house damaged and their cattle and goats missing.
“When we came back in 2008 we saw that our village was empty and desolate. Soon after the resettlement we were all supported mostly by the government, UN agencies and other NGOs who provided us with dry rations, temporary shelter and other basic supplies,” says Nesakumar.
Despite the fact that he had years of experience as a farmer Nesakumar was unable to restart his livelihood activities because he didn’t have enough capital or resources. Having no other option Nesakumar started working as a laborer. Though labor work brought in a meager daily income it was not even enough to cover the family’s living costs.
Things changed for the family when Nesakumar was selected as a beneficiary of the UNDP SCOPE project. Introduced to the Batticaloa District in 2009, the SCOPE project aims to strengthen the capacity of Community Service Organizations (CSO), helping them to be more effective and efficient in delivering services to the community. The project is currently being implemented in the three Divisional Secretariat Divisions of Valaichenai Central, Chenkalady and Vaunatheevu.
Several CSOs in the district submitted proposals for the Small Grant Facility under the SCOPE project. The Rural Development Society (RDS) from Ilupaddichenai in the Chenkalady division was selected and supported in the implementation of highland crops cultivation with selected beneficiaries. The cultivation began in November 2009, on 15 Acres of highland in the village. 20 beneficiary families were selected for the cultivation of Maize, Ground Nuts and other varieties of vegetables.
Nesakumar was one of the farmers selected to begin Maize cultivation. “I cultivated two acres of Maize and some Ground nuts. I gained a net profit of about Rs. 25,000 from this venture,” says Nesakumar.
From the profits he received from the Maize cultivation Nesakumar was able to purchase three cows. “My land is very suitable for cattle farming. My family members have been taking care of the cattle and selling the milk. I am now waiting for the second phase of the cultivation to begin,” says Nesakumar adding that the venture has really helped increase the family income. Though they still live in their little cottage, the Supramaniyam family now has more money to spend on their day to day needs. “Previously, I was really suffering from poverty and this small intervention has had a significant impact on my life. I believe that the RDS can become a strong community based organization and support more of its members in the future,” says Nesakumar.