24th September 2020, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka: Today, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) ceremonially signed a grant agreement with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to implement a five-month project in Central Province of Sri Lanka to improve awareness and resilience of poor and marginalised estate and rural communities to counter health hazards and socioeconomic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Korea through the KOICA is providing funding of US$ 195,000 to implement this project titled “Emergency support and special assistance to marglinalised estate and rural communities in Nuwara Eliya District in Sri Lanka to minimise health hazards of COVID-19 and socioeconomic implications of the pandemic”. The project intends to provide health and socioeconomic emergency support to counter the threats of the COVID-19 pandemic through creating awareness on safety and health measures and hygiene practices to minimise the risk of spread of COVID-19; improving measures on COVID-19 infection prevention and control; enhancing responses to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)/Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and child abuse during COVID-19 pandemic; and ensuring food security, nutrition and economic sustainability. It is expected to benefit approximately 100,000 people including 3,000 people from peripheral rural villages and 1,000 Government staff in Nuwara Eliya district.
The ceremonial signing of the grant agreement between Ms Youn Hwa Kang, Country Director of KOICA Sri Lanka and Dr Chanaka Talpahewa, Country Programme Manager of UN-Habitat for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, took place at the District Secretariat, Nuwara Eliya. Officers from KOICA, the District Secretariat and UN-Habitat were also present at the event. The signing ceremony was followed by a discussion with Government stakeholders.
The project will be implemented by UN-Habitat in partnership with the Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, District Secretariat, Divisional Secretariats, Department of Agrarian Development, Local Authorities, Regional Directorate of Health Services and Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS). UN-Habitat is planning to work in selected estates and peripheral rural villages in Nuwara Eliya district and a majority of the activities of the project will be implemented in Nuwara Eliya and Kotmale Divisional Secretariat Divisions.
The project was developed pursuant to a request made by the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Eradiation (with special attention being given to the challenges posed and opportunities emerged in Sri Lanka due to COVID – 19 outbreak) to UN Agencies to support the Government of Sri Lanka in COVID-19 pandemic emergency response and development interventions and on requests made by the Central Provincial Council and District Secretariat of Nuwara Eliya. The project is an extension of the “Human Development Initiative through Empowerment and Settlement Improvement in the Plantation Settlements in Sri Lanka” funded by KOICA and will provide lessons for subsequent emergency projects with a special focus on water, sanitation, addressing SGBV and agriculture development. It will also contribute to KOICA’s efforts to support emergency responses, especially on COVID-19 and their strategy to strengthen resilience towards sustainable development and establish an economic foundation for socially vulnerable groups.