East a potential business hub - Project Director NECCDEP
The East will be the next trade hub and the future of the Sri Lankan
economy said Project Director, North East Coastal Community Development
Project (NECCDEP), S.M. Croos during a media tour to the East.
|Mending fishing nets
|A tailoring shop
He said the East was ravaged by the war but yet with its vast natural
resources has enormous potential to be the business centre in the
"Shattered dreams of thousands of people have revived and they look
towards the future with lot of optimism.Youth who held arms are getting
equipped with professional skills", he said.
The number of beneficiaries of the micro credit scheme of NECCDEP is
on the rise and the benefits of the scheme are trickling down to grass
The North East Coastal Community Development Project (NECCDEP) funded
by the ADB and implemented by the then Ministry of Nation Building and
Infrastructure Development is aimed at reducing poverty and meeting the
basic needs of coastal communities of the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and
The five-year project has enormously improved the lifestyle of
people, their dress code, consumption patterns and cultural bindings.
Many who lived a hand-to-mouth existence now could afford a square meal,
educate their children and look into their welfare.
H. Rajakumari, a 40- year old widow from Pumkua in the Trincomalee
district had to start life from scratch at the age of 15 to bring up her
Sheer determination and courage brought dividends to Rajkumari who
today is a sought after seamstress with a potential to earn over Rs.
40,000 a month.
"If there is a will there is a way and all one needs to be is
enterprising and the sky is the limit for such people. I obtained a loan
of Rs. 50,000 a year ago to buy sewing machines and today my business is
flourishing", she said.
Rajkumari has two employees and finds time to train girls the craft
which she has mastered. Her spare time is spent on creating designs. The
enduring spirit of Rajkumari had inspired her daughter who is now a
second year student at the Agriculture Faculty of the Eastern
University. Her ambition is to be an agriculturist and help the farming
community in the area and revive the age old occupation of her
The ADB micro credit scheme has a ripple impact on community
development.The number of children entering universities have increased
and there is a sharp decline in the number of those seeking overseas
The drop in the number of migrant workers in Kaththankudi has helped
strengthen family bonds and avert major social problems. Children who
have been left under the care of a relative is sexually victimised.
Pakiamohamad Kadijah, a 44-year-old widow who lost her husband during
the hight of the war in the mid 1990s left to the Middle East to support
her three children.
Prior to being a beneficiary of the micro credit scheme of the
Women's Rural Development Society (WRDS) in Kaththankudi she had gone
overseas several times but now being able to make ends meet has decided
not to go abroad.
"Since 1991 I have been abroad seven times to educate my children.I
could now stand on my feet and live a reasonably decent life, thanks to
the help given by WRDS", Kadijah said.
WRDS, an organisation to empower rural women provides micro credit
for self employment. Dairy, poultry, fishing, sewing, mat weaving,
palmyrah products, prawn farms, garments and pottery are lucrative self
employment avenues in the East.
Women play an active complementary role in supporting families and
are often the breadwinner due the husband's disability.
The number of male victims of the war is high and has led to the rise
in the number of women headed households in the East.
Nabisha Baham, is a 45-year old widow with three children and depends
on mat weaving for her existence.
She is a beneficiary of the micro credit scheme and has developed her
business over the years.
"I could make more mats now since I could afford to buy the raw
material.Earlier I weaved one or two a day but now I could make around
five", Baham said.
Baham had been working for a businessman who paid Rs. 100 for a mat
whereas now doing the business by herself she earns Rs. 350 per mat.
"I am thankful for the training given to me and would always like to
impart my knowledge to others", she said.
Skills development, an integral part of the project promotes
sustainable livelihood and sound management of natural resources.
The women shopping complex in Batticaloa which comprises products
manufactured by women shows the role of women in the economy and their
capability to manage and turnaround enterprises.
The number of female headed households in the Batticaloa district is
around 25,727 of approximately 153,074 families.The number of widows is
around 15,648 of which 2,939 are war widows.
There is an urge among youth to pursue higher studies. The biggest
hurdle in their lives has now been cleared and opportunities of loan
recipient families have been able to pursue higher education and enhance
the income levels of their families.
Adambava Kamsi who supplies stringhoppers to hotels in Kaththankudi
is a proud mother as her son is the first student to enter the medical
faculty of the Rajarata University.
Kamsi who had no words to express her happiness about the son
qualifying to enter university said "I am extremely proud about my son
and I will do my utmost to support his education".
"I will not discourage my mother from making stringhoppers. She
enjoys her work and I am happy about the progress she has made" Kamsi's
Kamsi who is a recipient of the micro credit scheme has been able
increase the number of stringhoppers she makes from 200 to 1000 and as a
result her income has grown many folds.
The NECCDEP launched in 2004 with a US$ 28.4 million loan from the
ADB will end in November.