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Sri Lanka rises from the ashes

Asoka Girahagama
October 06, 2012

Sri Lanka had to face, for over 30 years since 1976, the scourge of war that emanated from the brutality of terrorism.

The devastation that took place, human and material, was indescribable.

It severely affected the economic development of the country, a setback that was unbearable to a small country like Sri Lanka. Northern and Eastern areas have been the stronghold of terrorists and these areas suffered seriously.

Military operations that took place subsequently wiped out the menace of terrorism from Sri Lanka and today, it has become a peaceful country.

Many villagers evacuated these areas due to terror-threat and became internally displaced persons during that dark era. These people have now returned to their original places after many years and have started a new life.

Villagers of some areas did not leave their villages despite the threats of terrorists because those areas were provided security by Army or Navy bases located near the villages. These villagers had been living in poverty for many years due to lack of resources or financial support.

Now all these peasants are accruing benefits from the poverty alleviation programme namely "Divi Neguma- ( strengthening the livelihood) launched by the Ministry of Economic Development.

This Ministry is visible every nook and corner of the North and East regions and has taken many initiatives to provide financial and material support for their new life.

"Divi Neguma- project was launched to support grass-root level people to achieve self-sufficiency under three fields namely, Agriculture, Small-scale industry and Livestock.

It is interesting to note that in many villages, farmers, cultivators and self-employed villagers have formed a fund for their benefit.

They can obtain loans for their crops or small businesses, which could be settled in instalments. The key guarantee is the trust and honesty.

A board consisting of, mainly, females functioning as the trustee of the fund will decide whether the particular member is qualified for a loan. Interestingly, females are appointed as authority because all members have a confidence in them.

The members, whom I have met, are satisfied with the system as they are tired of commercial banks that require guarantees for loans, numerous documentation and high interest rates. They could even end up in courts if they fail to settle loans.

By this simple system, they are able to fulfill their requirements without much hassle. They are satisfied with the system in which the members have become their own masters. Many villages have adopted this system and some groups have developed their funds to provide housing loans too.

This is the story of people who have the courage to stand on their own feet and build up their lives without depending on others.

In other words, this is an effort to get the contribution of the grass-root level people for the national economy through self-sufficiency. I think this story is reminiscent of proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes! Asoka Girahagama is the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Sultanate of Oman.

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Source Times of Oman 06.10.2012