UN RC and UNDP RR, Mr. Subinay Nandy's Statement at the Launch of the EU Funded SDDP
05 June 2015, Colombo. Honorable Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs Harsha de Silva,
H.E Mr. David Dalley, Head of Delegation of the European Union for Sri Lanka and the Maldives,
Heads and colleagues from the UN and IFC
Representatives from the Government, Academia and Civil Society,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a pleasure to address you all today as we officially introduce the Support to District Development Programme funded by the European Union implemented by five UN agencies and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. The programme is the result of more than a year-long deliberations between the Government of Sri Lanka, the European Union and the United Nations. The Programme commenced implementation last October after overcoming several set-backs and challenges. At the time of its initial formulation in 2012, we encountered several challenges including bureaucratic hurdles, delays and political interferences, which affected the start-up of the Programme. We are grateful for the efforts of all those who patiently and tirelessly engaged in the negotiations to see this Programme a reality today. Time is now opportune to formally introduce this Programme to the media and the general public.
Three decades of civil war in the Northern and Eastern provinces had a devastating effect on the socio-economic fabric of the two provinces. The war resulted in destruction of both life and property, community and economic infrastructure, institutions of governance and large scale internal displacement and out migration. The districts in the Northern and Eastern provinces and the adjacent districts were alienated from the overall development process of the country.
Sri Lanka, as a country has shown remarkable resilience and strength in facing these challenges. However, considerable regional and sectoral disparities still remain in income, educational and health attainments. There is thus a compelling need to bridge inter-district disparities and strengthen the economic, social and institutional foundations of the more impoverished and lagging districts to bring them in line with developmental objectives and targets articulated at the national level.
This programme aims to address this gap by supporting selected districts in the North and East provinces through poverty reduction and provision of basic infrastructure and services for vulnerable populations, supporting local economic development and strengthening local governance. We believe that our interventions in these areas would contribute to stabilization and peace in these areas through empowerment of both communities and institutions.
The Programme adopts a comprehensive and holistic approach to realizing its specific objectives.
Poverty reduction and provision of basic infrastructure and services to vulnerable populations is to be achieved by five intervention areas, namely, income generation, improving sustainable livelihoods, improving infrastructure offering services, access to quality social services and strengthening capacity of local producers.
Local economic development focuses on supporting entrepreneurship and expansion of existing businesses, improving the business environment and improving access to quality vocational training.
And, strengthening local governance is to be achieved by strengthening the capacities of local governance institutions.
The programme is implemented by five UN agencies, the UNDP, ILO, UNICEF, UNOPS and FAO as well as IFC. Working together, the Programme places special emphasis on Gender equality, environment, and youth. This Programme builds on the experience of a number of successful joint initiatives, notably the Ampara Partnership, Assistance to Conflict Affected People (EU-ACAP), Socio-Economic Measures (EU-SEM), Aid to Uprooted housing Programmes (AUP) (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012) and the EU Humanitarian assistance programmes (ECHO).
The SDDP covers those districts that were directly affected by the conflict such Mannar, Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Ampara as well as the neighboring villages impacted from the conflict like Puttalam, Anuradhapura, and Monaragala districts.
The hallmark of this Programme is that it emphasizes on extensive ownership at district/divisional levels in implementing activities. The Programme uses the District Development Plans as baseline documents complemented by consultations with District secretaries, Local Authorities, communities, and other relevant stakeholders to decide on broad priorities and needs. If there are any gaps in the existing plans, support will be given to improve these plans while at the same time building the capacities of local governance institutions to develop plans for the future. Hence, solutions emerge from the people at the local level and nothing is “imposed” on them.
I am pleased to note that the ends we seek to achieve through this Programme are well reflected in the SDGs, a new set of development goals that will replace the MDGs, As such, this Programme would give us deep insights into contextual realities enabling us to more effectively assist Sri Lanka to achieve the goals and targets that it identifies for itself.
I want to thank the Government of Sri Lanka, both at local and national level, for the continued commitment towards this Programme.
We are very grateful to the European Union for their generous support and the continued interest in this Programme
The work of my colleagues in the UN and IFC in taking this Programme forward is much appreciated.
I would also like to thank the editors of the Print and electronic media for your participation and support in carrying this messages to the wider public.
Last but not least, thank you for your presence here today which is a reflection of your interest in our work.