Successes in Achieving Economic Justice

Women from Batticaloa now earn more by selling rice based products instead of unprocessed paddy. Photograph: Nipuna Kumbalathara/Oxfam

We at Oxfam believe that economic empowerment is not just about increasing income but broadening the range of economic opportunities and supporting communities to make their own choices.

Oxfam primarily focused on responding to the needs of communities in the conflict-affected regions of the north, east and isolated border villages in the south and central districts of Sri Lanka. The program supported approximately 30,000 families in 12 districts in Sri Lanka (Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya, Kegalle, Hambantota, Trincomalee, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Batticaloa, and Monaragala). It targeted the poorest and most marginalised women and men from the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities through longer term Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) development, increasing income generation activities, diversification of livelihoods and strengthening market links.

Achievements:

  • 2862 community members in target villages have increased their income, savings and have the ability to fulfil their basic needs;
  • 9885 families have improved living conditions due to construction of essential infrastructure such as toilets and drinking wells;
  • Number of poor marginalised families who accessed Government and other services increased six-fold to over 30,000 families;
  • The number of community members that established and maintained home gardens increased from approximately 3,000 to over 8,300 resulting in improved nutrition and consumption of three nutritious meals per day for all family members; and
  • 50 new SMEs have been developed.
  • Over 5,500 women increased their income by 30% through enterprises.
  • National and regional market links benefit over 1,500 producers

Background

The Sri Lankan labor market comprises of a large informal sector which represents 62.2% of the total employed of which there are four distinctly disadvantaged groups: the urban poor, agricultural and fisheries community, daily wage workers and women engaged in family enterprises without remuneration (including home gardening). The unemployment rate for women is more than twice as much as that of men. In agriculture, state extension services support largely focuses on promoting conventional methods, and they are typically targeted to male farmers, to the detriment of women farmers. Women farmers are an essential and key players in Sri Lanka’s agriculture.