East Gets Step Motherly Treatment

by Ifham Nizam

Apart from a few projects in the name of economic development nothing substantial has taken place in the once warn torn eastern province, officials claim.

A  majority of the people and officials believe a systematic rehabilitation and reintegration process should be the key for the betterment of the people in the east. However, successive governments have failed to do this

.The good news is that the Eastern Provincial Council has commenced the  preparation of its second Medium-term Development Plan (MDP) and Agency Results Framework (ARF) for the period 2017- 2020 through a consultative process with many stakeholders.

However, officials stressed that development is taking place at a snail’s pace, although most of the Muslim politicians boasted about a kick start. “These politicians are not concerned about their welfare nor worried the welfare of masses,” an official said neither adding that a classic example is that none of the so called politicians would even answer a call nor reply a letter.

Another official said that the civil conflicts and Tsunami have had severe impacts on the economy and people of the Eastern Province.

He said as part of Government’s medium term development programme, the external assistance is provided by various foreign donors for the infrastructure development and community improvement in the Eastern Province.

Specially designed projects with specific objectives are being implemented in the Province with the assistance under international economic cooperation in collaboration with relevant stakeholders at national and provincial levels.

With the participation of all stakeholders, the donor funded projects play a crucial role in the reconstruction of infrastructure and provision of livelihood support activities for vulnerable people to improve the living standards of the community in the Eastern Province.

The Eastern Provincial Council focuses its efforts for design and smooth implementation of the projects and for effective utilisation of the resources available from the projects.

Expressing his personal views on development in the East after the war, former Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Chairman Basheer Segudawood told The Sunday Leader that in terms of infrastructure, the Eastern province has had its reasonable share during the post war period.

It has witnessed development in Roads and Bridges, Educational institutions, minor irrigation tanks and some areas in the Health and social welfare segments.

“However,  all of this was prior to January 2015. Unfortunately, the East is yet to see any initiation in terms of development that could be termed as significant during the two year governance of the Yahapalana administration.

As far as the east is concerned, ample untapped resources are available which needs to be ignited by the state to yield tangible results in terms of monetary and employment benefits.  Agriculture, Fisheries  and Aquatic resources and Tourism are a few  that can be mentioned,” he said.

Successive governments have failed to explore to its optimum potential of these resources, he said.

He also said that it is largely perceived that development is what one sees externally as the betterment of living conditions and facilities.

The people’s minds and attitudes should be developed to come out of the hangovers of the War.

He added that they should be convinced to accept the broader based multi ethnic demography.  The most pertinent factor what the government should demonstrate to the people is absolute sincerity, in their actions. People should believe that they  are cared  for by the state.

To instill this believe in the minds of the public, the government should carry out a pure people friendly and pragmatic approach, addressing the issues of each region on a case by case basis. A blanket solution may fall short of meeting the grievances of an affected society or a segment that has a peculiar requirement.

“Sauce for the Goose is not sauce for the Gander“

“If I may address one issue that is the grievances of the youth from the war affected areas, who lost the opportunity of pursing their education.

In effect, these youth have  passed the ‘schooling age’ now, without having any basic qualifications to seek government employment.

The government should provide an opportunity to offer these youth employment on a casual basis, and have a qualifying examination to make them permanent. One could argue that they could still appear externally and still be qualified.

So, you find so many such social and socio-economic issues that need to be addressed in the correct perspective to affect development in human lives.

Development is a concept which encompasses multi-faceted aspects that needs to be addressed with solutions identified on a selective basis,” he stressed.

 

East income generation

Income generation and basic social protection for disadvantaged groups in needy communities is in the pipeline.  The project is to enhance the lives of the disadvantaged people in poor communities in the Eastern Province.

The project is to support the disadvantaged people in poor communities for skills development, providing initial assets  to set up small businesses and  assist to get access for markets and social security arrangement for self employment.

The total estimated cost of this project is USD 2 Million. The project activities commenced in March 2009 but is taking place at alarmingly slow rate, an official said.

The project designs are being done by  the Asian Development Bank, Training Project on community and development for frontline officers. The purpose of the project is to enhance the capacity of frontline officers in the eastern province to support community development and cooperate/ coordinate with other public officers from different government organisations .

The proposed project includes; i) Farmer empowerment and provision of credit facilities, ii) Institutional development and capacity building iii) Development of rural infrastructure and generation  and dissemination of agricultural technology and iv) Inland fisheries development programme to achieve the objectives.

The concept Paper was submitted to JICA and ERD 04 Reinforcing Accessibility from community to hubs (REACH). The proposed project is to enhance social infrastructure and economic development in selected vulnerable divisions in the  Eastern Province. This project assists Road Development, Community water supply & Irrigation in selected divisions.

The project locations have been identified based on poverty head count index of Census and Statistical Department and considering the future Development programmes targeted in the areas in the above mentioned sectors.

The total estimate of the project is Rs. 1,300 Million. The Department of Local Government and Department of Irrigation Baseline study is carried out by Japan Internal Cooperation Agency (JICA) consultants.

Despite numerous calls and messages sent  by us since last Monday Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahmed failed to respond.

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