EU ambassadors visit rural development projects in central province
Thu, March 3, 2022, 7:00 p.m. SL time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
03 March, Colombo: Ambassadors of the European Union (EU) and EU Member States residing in Sri Lanka traveled this week to Nuwara Eliya district in Central Province for a two-day visit in EU-funded rural development projects.
During their visit, the EU ambassadors visited and handed over a number of infrastructure in the region, such as a new business service center in Nuwara Eliya, a renovated water supply system in a tea plantation in Ragala and a seed potato production unit in Kandapola.
All these activities have been developed and financed within the framework of the EU program “Support for integrated rural development in the most vulnerable districts of the provinces of Uva and Center”.
This programme, launched in 2017, was the first major European initiative in the region with approximately LKR 6 billion (€30 million) in grants awarded to four districts of Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Badulla and Monaragala located in the provinces of ‘Uva and the Center.
Over the past five years, the EU has partnered with both the Sri Lankan government, the private sector and civil society organizations to improve the situation of small businesses, provide infrastructure for best practices in health, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, and to strengthen economic service delivery by local authorities, community organizations and the private sector in the two provinces.
EU Ambassadors have been informed that over 600 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been supported, of which over 200 are owned by women. Initiatives promoting SME development have had an impressive impact on income and job creation, market development, technology development and business skills development, ensuring private sector growth and sustainability. The program has helped to reduce barriers faced by women entrepreneurs in accessing finance and other services. Thanks to these efforts, more than 1,500 jobs have been created, increasing the participation of women in the labor market.
During the visit, the group was informed that the EU had helped to provide clean water to more than 35,000 people and to renovate water supply systems and latrines in more than 70 schools and 30 towns. This has enabled more than 4,000 children to have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities in their schools.
EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi said: “Promoting local economic development and social inclusion has been at the heart of our support for years. Since 2014, the EU and its Member States have provided more than €210 million (approximately Rs 48 billion) to improve the quality of life of Sri Lankans, including in the provinces of Uva and Central, which have among the poorest regions of the country. This visit took place in a European team spirit; my fellow European Ambassadors and I are pleased with our long-term assistance to bring about positive change in people’s lives.
As part of the two-day visit, EU ambassadors also participated in the opening of the “Tea Kahata” photography exhibition, organized by the Center for Policy Alternatives, initially supported under the funded project by the EU ‘Strengthening the Reconciliation Process in Sri Lanka’ and implemented by GIZ. The exhibition, featuring more than 100 photographs of the daily life of the Tamil communities in the interior of the country, used art as vehicle to promote dialogue and explore themes such as identity and inequality.
Photo caption: EU and Member State Ambassadors at the opening of the Business Service Center in Nuwara Eliya