Sri Lanka Joint Plan for Assistance for the Northern Province in 2011
In May 2009, the Government of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka announced the end of combat operations in the 26-year-long conflict with the separatist movement of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Since then, the Government and its international partners have worked together to address the emergency needs of the displaced and conflict-affected populations, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
During the final stages of the conflict, more than 230 000 people fled their homes, adding to the tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had fled earlier. The main focus of humanitarian assistance so far has been support to resettled IDPs through relief and early recovery operations and the rehabilitation of infrastructure, including shelter, roads, railways, schools, hospitals, irrigation and water tanks. The Joint Plan for Assistance (JPA) for the Northern Province in 2011 was finalized with Government partners on 1 February to support reconstruction and recovery efforts that will ultimately ensure the long-term sustainable development of the Northern Province.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and partners of the Food Security, Agriculture and Livelihood sector seek to provide agriculture and livelihoods assistance to IDPs, returnees and host communities in order to promote a seamless transition from humanitarian relief to socio-economic recovery and self-reliance.
Challenges facing food security and livelihoods
Agriculture is the most important component of the Northern Province’s economy and livelihoods. Nearly 80 percent of households in the province were involved in farming prior to displacement. The Northern Province also accounted for significant shares of Sri Lanka’s livestock and fisheries production. In 2010, FAO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, carried out interventions valued at USD 13.8 million. Whereas assistance in 2009-2010 was geared towards quickimpact income-generating activities to ensure food security, the proposed activities for 2011 seek to promote sustainable agricultural livelihoods.
The most vulnerable farm-based returnee households will need crop support for at least two more planting seasons. Priority will be given to support the cultivation of paddy, other field crops and backyard fruits and vegetables. The province will also be targeted for coconut and palmyrah production. Key agricultural support services provided by the Government need to be restored and access to quality inputs such as seed and fertilizer must also be improved. Following crop production, fisheries is the second most important economic activity in the Northern Province. Despite having almost one-third of the national coastline, the province accounts for only 5 percent of national fisheries production.
There is, therefore, a need to improve institutional capacity in the fisheries sub-sector in production, storage and marketing. Furthermore, support is required to re-establish smallscale rural livestock production, a key source of income. Tens of thousands of abandoned stray cattle that are currently roaming the countryside represent diminished livestock productivity and a threat to farmers who must protect their crops from grazing by stray animals.
Within the framework of the Joint Plan for Assistance for the Northern Province in 2011, FAO seeks over USD 14 million to assist returnee households to restore crop, fisheries and livestock production. FAO’s activities aim to:
- re-establish or improve crop production through the provision of seed and fertilizer inputs;
- increase the availability of and access to water for cultivation through the rehabilitation of 50 minor tanks and 600 agro-wells;
- ensure resumption of fishing activities through the repair and replacement of assets, rehabilitation of common infrastructure and institutional capacity building; and
- restore livestock production through the provision of cattle, goat and poultry and related animal services.