The annual micro projects scheme of the German Foreign office aims to empower grassroots organisations that work for the betterment of local communities.
The first project worth Rs. 2.7 million focuses on constructing a village road in Sagamam, near Akkaraipattu in the Eastern Province. This road will help 440 farming families to easily access over 1000 acres of paddy land that they are cultivating in the formerly LTTE controlled area near the Sagamam tank.
“Most of these farmers were displaced during the height of the conflict in the East,” said M.M.M Basheeer, the Project Co-ordinator from the Eastern Rehabilitation Relief Organization (ERRO Lanka), a community based organisation which has undertaken to implement this project.
Basheer added that most displaced families do not qualify for government support, since they had moved in with their relatives in Akkaraipattu, instead of living in camps. “Now they have to travel about 25km daily to come to their fields. But the gravel road leading to the cultivated areas gets flooded in the rainy season, making it impossible to take tractors or harvesters into the fields.”
The second project aims to build a water supply system for Peenkanda Tamil Vidyala, a plantation sector school in Rathnapura. The school with classes from grade 1 to 9, has about 150 students. At present their only source of water at school is a makeshift pipe, that taps into a small stream on a nearby hill.
“Many schools in the Rathnapura area are affected by the lack of access to water,” said Charles M. Ravie, the school’s principal. “Most of our students’ parents work in tea and rubber plantations. Together, we have created a small community organization to develop our school, since we cannot wait until either the government or the plantation owners help us.”
The project worth Rs 1.3 million will help create a water storage tank and a distribution pipeline that would give clean drinking water for the children.
The next project also aims at supporting education. But it targets conflict affected children in Kannahipuram, a village located 30 KM from Kilinochchi.
This village has 375 families, all of them were displaced and traumatized during the final stages of the conflict. There are about 20 children who have lost their parents and are being looked after by the grand parents. One in ten families are headed by a war widow.
The German Micro project scheme is supporting the National Christian Council to create a child friendly space, where the children can get extra support with their homework. The centre also has sport facilities. The project worth Rs. 1.2 million also creates a small story book library and other learning related activities like story telling.
The final projects worth Rs. 1.2 million aims to provide livelihood support for 20 war affected women in Mannar by helping them setup poultry farms.
“While Germany has funded many large infrastructure development projects in Sri Lanka, we change one life at a time, through our Micro project scheme,” said German Ambassador Jens Plötner. “Real change comes when you empower individuals and families and help them build better lives and better communities.”