Support to Conflict Affected People through Housing

Funded by: European Union, Australian Government (AusAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) – USD 23million

Partners: Government of Sri Lanka, Local Authorities and, communities

Locations: (overview map)


In May 2009, more than three decades of conflict came to end in Sri Lanka. While the entire country has suffered as a result, districts of the North and East have been devastated. Families have been displaced on multiple occasions, often being forced to leave their homes for many years. When people eventually returned, most of their houses had been either badly damaged or completely destroyed. As the majority of people affected are relatively poor with marginal incomes, with little or no savings, they have been unable to sustain major financial shocks, such as loss of livelihoods and housing.0

The country is now presented with an opportunity for long term peace and sustainable development. Timely assistance to re‐establish sustainable settlements through permanent reconstruction of their houses will provide families with a sense of safety, security and dignity. This foundation will serve as a stepping stone in the process of social re-integration and recovery from the trauma faced during the conflict.

UN–HABITAT has over thirty years of cooperation in Sri Lanka and has pioneered innovative approaches in community rebuilding of housing and infrastructure delivery, working closely with the Government, Civil Society Organisations, development partners and communities. In its post disaster recovery initiatives in the country, UN-Habitat has reached over 14,000 families with housing assistance and tens of thousands more have benefitted from infrastructure initiatives.

The Project

The project aims to contribute to a sustainable solution for the returnees in the Northern Province with the specific objective of improving the living conditions and social cohesion of displaced people, returnees and their host communities in the North through provision of permanent housing.

Having established that a permanent house is the cornerstone for a families’ recovery, the project will assist the reconstruction of approximately 4,700 houses in 60 villages within the target districts.

Funding for the project is provided by the European Union, the Australian Government and SDC. The project is implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC in close coordination with other EU funded projects in order to ensure holistic settlement development in the Northern Province.

Project Approach

Housing is considered a multi‐faceted need, consisting of rehabilitation and development needs of the affected families in addition to human security and protection as well as human dignity. It also provides opportunities for livelihoods, enhanced quality of life, safety and improved health. In order to assist conflict affected families to overcome vulnerabilities, this project seeks to empower families to act on their own behalf, by supporting them to become strong and active members of communities through a series of widely tested community development activities and processes.

Through a “Home Owner Driven” approach, this project seeks to empower the beneficiary families to take charge of their own recovery process. More than 60 villages in the identified districts in the Northern Province will be assisted through this programme for the full reconstruction of 2,500 fully damaged houses, and the major repair of approximately 2,200 damaged houses.

Technical assistance and guidance for reconstruction is provided to all conflict affected families by field‐based UN‐HABITAT and SDC teams. Vulnerable groups such as female headed households and physically disabled persons are given priority assistance in order to ensure their safety and welfare. Due to destruction and loss of documents during the conflict, many families have difficulty in proving their ownership of land and it is anticipated that over 1,000 families will benefit from assistance to establish security of tenure through the project.

More than 600 youths from the beneficiary communities will receive construction skills training through the technical support under an SDC initiative. The families will also contribute their labour to the reconstruction efforts and material will be procured locally, in turn helping the growth of local economies.

Main Activities

  • Housing Construction.
  • Building community capacity through participatory planning processes.
  • Essential community facilities to be provided based on community priorities identified through “Settlement Implementation Plans”
  • Training provided in construction, leadership (e.g. women in decision making roles).
  • Partnership building with State agencies and Development partners.
  • Ensure security of tenure.