(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –The government of Japan partnering with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) has provided US$ 3.8 million to launch two new livelihood projects to support vulnerable smallholder farming families in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki, and Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP Sri Lanka, launched the two new livelihood projects that address the economic crisis in Sri Lanka on Monday at Temple Trees.
The ongoing socio-economic crisis has had serious impacts on the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. The rising energy costs and evolving climate change impacts have further exacerbated due to the situation.
In response, the Government of Japan through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, will provide approximately LKR 1,175 million (approx. USD 3.8 million) to support vulnerable smallholder farming families in the Dry Zone districts, namely North-Central, North-Western and Eastern Provinces, with a focus on women’s economic empowerment and adoption of green agricultural technologies.
Funded by the Japanese Supplementary Budget (JSB) and working together with the Government of Sri Lanka and relevant stakeholders, the intervention aims to achieve its objectives through two projects; the first focusing on diversifying livelihoods and introduce entrepreneurship programs, targeting women-led MSMEs.
The second aims to strengthen energy and food security, through the revival of the rural agricultural economy by providing access to innovative markets, value and supply chain improvements along with the adoption of modern, green agricultural technologies which will increase productivity and efficiency.
A total of 58,000 women and youth will directly benefit from these projects, while indirectly impacting over 132,000 vulnerable community members from the North-Central, North-Western and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the event Prime Minister Gunawardena stressed the paramount importance of uplifting vulnerable small holder families and empowering women and appreciated Japan’s support.
“Government of Sri Lanka appreciates the continuous support extended by the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme towards country’s efforts to recover from the socioeconomic crisis,” the Prime Minister said and added, “We believe this is a significant step towards creating a food and energy secure Sri Lanka, both vital sectors to the fabric of the country’s economy.”
Highlighting Japan’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka in crisis recovery efforts, Ambassador Mizukoshi said as the ongoing socio-economic crisis has had serious impacts on the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka Japan has responded to the Prime Minister’s request decided to assist the two programs aimed at diversifying livelihoods and introduce entrepreneurship programs, targeting women-led MSMEs.
“Japan has been working together with the Government of Sri Lanka and relevant UN agencies for economic and social empowerment of women in Sri Lanka, including the formulation of National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security. These new projects will provide for practical means to uplift lives of vulnerable communities. Especially, we recognize the special needs of women-headed household in conflict-affected areas. It is a great opportunity to create positive synergy with UNDP’s expertise and JICA’s technical assistance for supporting livelihood and vulnerable communities.”
Commenting on the role of UNDP in bringing together stakeholders and facilitating such processes in times of need, Ms. Azusa Kubota, Resident Representative, UNDP in Sri Lanka said the programs are aimed to strengthen energy and food security, through the revival of the rural agricultural economy by providing access to innovative markets, value and supply chain improvements along with the adoption of modern, green agricultural technologies which will increase productivity and efficiency.
“These are times when multiple-solutions through multiple-partnerships are required because we are faced with compounding and complex challenges. I am grateful for the commitments demonstrated by a wide range of actors present today. We must join hands to address the needs of the most vulnerable and affected segments of the society – particularly women-headed households. And investing in them will have visible, long-term benefits for the families and communities,” she said.
Chief Representative of JICA in Sri Lanka Mr. Tetsuya Yamada, Minister of Agriculture Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister of Power and Energy Kanchana Wijesekera, senior government officials and development partners also participated in the launch event held today to mark the beginning of these projects and to recognize the Government of Japan’s support to the interventions.