Strengthening Socioeconomic Resilience of Communities Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Central and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka

Funded by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)
Budget US$ 5.5 million
Implemented by United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)
PartnersMinistry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government, District Secretariats, Nuwara Eliya and Badulla, Divisional Secretariats, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities, Regional Directorate of Health Services, Water Supply and Drainage Board, Estate Workers Housing Cooperative Societies and Rural Development Societies
Duration33 months (September 2022 – June 2025)
LocationNuwara Eliya District within Central Province: Five (5) Divisional Secretariat (DS) divisions, namely Nuwara Eliya, Walapane, Hanguranketha, Kothmale and Ambagamuwa

Badulla District within Uva Province: Six (6) Divisional Secretariat divisions, namely, Mahiyanganaya, Rideemaliyadda, Haldummulla, Badulla, Bandarawela and Welimada

Project Description

The COVID-19 crisis comes with an unprecedented socioeconomic shock to Sri Lanka. The socioeconomic impact of the pandemic is disproportionately felt. Therefore, it is important to understand the main elements of disparities–The impact of the pandemic on low-income households, households engaging in day wage livelihoods and self-employment are overwhelming. A preponderance of families in estate communities and peripheral rural villages fall under this category. With the consequences of the pandemic are expected to last for years to come, recovery and development interventions to support the vulnerable persons in estate and peripheral rural communities is paramount.

It is a recognised fact that the economic contribution of the estate community is remarkable, however their social and economic needs remain unsatisfied vis-à-vis the urban and rural segments in the country. The estate sector, including the peripheral rural villages have the highest level of chronic poverty and unemployment. According to the 2016 census, the Poverty Head Count Index in Nuwara Eliya is 6.3% and Badulla 6.8%. 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. 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. As a result, these communities are highly prone to health-related risks, including the risk of occurrence of a subsequent wave(s) of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are considered as basic human rights. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the provision of safe water, sanitation and waste management and hygienic conditions is essential for preventing and for protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including COVID-19. WHO further highlights that evidenced-based and consistently applied WASH and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces, and healthcare facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of pathogens. The risks are strongly associated with excreta and untreated sewage, hand hygiene, protecting WASH workers and supporting the continuation and strengthening of WASH services, especially in underserved areas such as estate and peripheral rural villages.

The Project

The project will be implemented over a period of 33 months from September 2022 to June 2025. The project locations are considered environmentally fragile areas in the National Physical Plan of Sri Lanka and there has been increased frequency and number of landslides. The extent of damage observed during the recent decade shows that efforts and measures taken to date have been inadequate exacerbating the vulnerability of these communities. The project seeks to support Districts of Nuwara Eliya and Badulla in Central and Uva Provinces under three (3) sectors, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); health and agriculture.

The overall goal of the project is to support and strengthen socioeconomic recovery and resilience of estate and rural communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Central and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka, and the specific objectives include,

  • Increase access to sustainable, safe water and adequate sanitation for poor and vulnerable communities.
  • Reduce the prevalence of WASH-related diseases through the promotion of personal hygiene, environmental practices and provision of infrastructure.
  • Improve the water and sanitation services at preventive and curative primary health care facilities.
  • Improve agricultural practices and extension services to enhance productivity for upliftment of rural and estate communities.
  • Reduce post-harvest losses, increase food security and household income.

The project will support 60,218 direct beneficiaries from Nuwara Eliya district and 4,757 from Badulla district, and 920,000 indirect beneficiaries from the two districts.

Implementation Modality

The project implementation is built on the experience of UN-Habitat, its people-centric approach towards inclusive development and methodologies, and the guidelines and policies on social and economic development of marginalised communities. The project intends to address the problems through promoting a resilience paradigm that can help communities and individuals in preparedness, response and recovery of future socioeconomic shocks and ultimately protecting human life.

The project has been designed keeping following cross-cutting and integrated approaches at heart to maximise synergies and overall project impact.

Integrated solution number 1: An integrated WASH/Health/Agriculture intervention package. The proposed solutions will include; (i) Identifying the water schemes that are providing water to the communities and addressing gaps in access to safe water, (ii) identifying communities without easy and safe access to water and developing/expanding required community water schemes for these populations, (iii) improvement of existing sewerage facilities, (iv) defining a package of interventions and training to ensure access to clean agricultural practices, (v) introducing model Grama Niladhari areas on WASH/Health/Agriculture practices to ensure sustainability of safe water systems, agricultural and health practices and (vi) Agriculture mechanisation, (vii) identifying the Primary Health Care (PHC) hospitals and preventive health service points that need WASH improvements and providing training on menstrual hygiene practices, hand washing practices of the communities and health seekers.

Integrated solution number 2: Ensure adequacy and improved quality of safe water for consumption by the population in the Nuwara Eliya and Badulla Districts and reduce the contamination and competition for usage of domestic water for alternative agricultural purposes. Accordingly, WASH improvements will be provided in Grama Niladhari areas covered by contaminated water schemes, including provision of toilets and managing the water quality and treatment facilities. Support will also be provided to improve sewerage systems. Agriculture infrastructure improvement and training and awareness in GAP will be conducted across population in targeted areas.

Outputs and Activities

Sector 1: WASH and Health

Output 1.1: Improved hygiene environment for post-COVID

  • Renovation of water supply system
  • Establishment and renovation of sewerage treatment system
  • Establishment of safe waste disposal system through provision of equipment for medical waste disposal
  • Conducting capacity building workshops on water quality management and water safety plans, safe waste disposal management

Output 1.2: Improved sanitation & hygiene behaviour

  • Conducting workshops on hygiene behaviour change
  • Installation and renovation of sanitation facilities

Sector 2: Agriculture

Output 2.1: Increased productivity in the agriculture sector for post-COVID

  • Providing agriculture materials, equipment, and facilities
  • Conducting capacity building workshops and field guidance on agrarian and livestock practices
  • Supporting commercial farming cultivation for value-chain