COVID-19 development response to support marglinalised estate and rural communities in Nuwara Eliya and Badulla Districts in Sri Lanka
Funded by: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through UN Sri Lanka Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF)
Budget: USD 100,000
Implemented by: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
Partners: Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, District Secretariat, Nuwara Eliya (including Child and Women Development Units, Child Rights Promotion Branch and Information Centre), Divisional Secretariats, Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Department of Agrarian Development, Local Authorities, Regional Directorate of Health Services (including the COVID-19 Team of the Regional Directorate of Health Services) and Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Societies
Duration: 6 months (June – December 2021)
Location: Haguranketha and Walapane Divisional Secretariat Divisions of Nuwara Eliya District; and Badulla and Bandarawela Divisional Secretariat Divisions in Badulla District
The COVID-19 crisis comes with an unprecedented dire economic outlook and Sri Lanka has been experiencing the consequences of the pandemic for over 1 year. South Asia Economic Focus expects a severe economic slump in each of the eight countries in the region, instigated by halted economic activities, collapse of trade, and greater strain in the banking and financial sectors. The State machinery continue to assist the vulnerable communities including low-income households, Samurdhi beneficiaries, pensioners and disabled persons. However, the near poor are still unable to absorb the economic shock. The impact of the pandemic on low-income households engaging in day wage livelihoods and self-employment continue to experience severe hardships.
The estate and communities in peripheral rural villages experience a variety of socioeconomic constraints, including lack of access to Universal Basic Services (UBS), specifically, healthcare, food, shelter, shortfalls in access to productive assets like land, social infrastructure and basic utilities, especially, water, sanitation and electricity. Majority of estate communities live in dismal and unhealthy line rooms, which were constructed more than 150 years ago during the British rule, with poor drainage facilities, ventilation, and safe water and sanitation. These dwellings are home to families and extended families with around 6 to 10
individuals including children occupying the compact space, the living conditions in peripheral rural villages are no exception. The return of migrant workers from high-risk zones of COVID-19 to Nuwara Eliya and Badulla Districts has now posed a risk of further spreading of the pandemic. As a result, these communities are highly prone to health-related risks, including the risk of occurrence of subsequent waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proposed project has given special emphasis to health response and health security. The project will
also contribute towards household economics recovery in a reduced scale, with importance being given to
children of vulnerable families. In addition, the project will target towards (but not limited to) children and
youth with disabilities, and female-headed households and widows.
The project will be implemented in selected estates and peripheral rural villages in Haguranketha and Walapane Divisional Secretariat Divisions of Nuwara Eliya District; and Badulla and Bandarawela Divisional Secretariat Divisions in Badulla District.
The overall objective is to improve emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic in poor and marginalised estate and rural communities of Nuwara Eliya and Badulla Districts. UN-Habitat intends to achieve the overall objective through the following strategic objectives,
- Improve safe water and environmental sanitation for poor and vulnerable communities.
- Improve awareness on safety and health measures, and hygiene practices and supporting children and youth.
The interventions are intending to contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 and indirectly to SDG 8 and Sri Lanka COVID-19 Development Response Plan of the Australian Government with special emphasis on health security and to a lesser extent on economic recovery.
The project will adopt a people-centric approach throughout the project cycle, where stakeholders, including communities will also be actively involved in identification, verification, implementation, and monitoring. The people-centric approach drives communities towards development and bridging inequalities by and within themselves. The people-centric approach enhances community engagement and mobilisation strengthening the owner driven approach and systems for meaningful participation of all people in the respective communities including the women, children, youth and persons with disabilities acting as change agents.
A mixed method of implementation will be practiced, which would empower the communities—some activities will be implemented through already established Community-Based Organisations (and those that are currently registered with the District Secretariat) under Community Implementation Agreements (CIAs) with technical support of UN-Habitat. The rest of the activities will be directly executed by UN-Habitat in partnership with and support from the Government institutions.
Strong collaborations with the District Secretariat, Nuwara Eliya and Badulla (including Child and Women Development Units, Child Rights Promotion Branch, Social Services Branch, Agriculture Division and Information Centre), Regional Directorate of Health Services (including the COVID Team of the Regional Directorate of Health Services), Office of the Provincial Director of Health Services (Central and Uva Provinces), Local Authorities, Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Societies, and where necessary, Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government, Ministry of Mahaweli, Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development, Department of Agrarian Development and other relevant institutes and organisations will be utlised in the implementation of the proposed activities.
Expected Results and Activities
Result 1: Improved safe water and environmental sanitation for poor and vulnerable communities
- Improving adequate sanitation and handwashing facilities for vulnerable families living in line rooms and preschools and in the Field Mother and Child Health Centre (FMCHC) in Estates and rural areas.
- Provide equipment and technical support to improve the current water purification process run by the municipality and support water quality assessment in 2 (two) locations.
Result 2: Improved awareness on safety and health measures, and hygiene practices and supporting children and youth.
- Customise and disseminate trilingual messages (with special emphasis on bilingual material in Sinhala and Tamil) on safety and health measures, and hygiene practices through existing Youth Clubs.
- Mobilise public addressing system of Government, RDHS, MOH Office, religious institutions, and public transport to convey messages on safety and health measures and hygiene practices.
- Through the RDHS provide guidance on occupational safety and health measures and hygiene practices to estate management.
- Train selected children from most vulnerable families for rainwater harvesting and wastewater reuse and support them in organic home gardening