Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena stressed the paramount importance of uplifting vulnerable small holder families and empowering women. Speaking at the launching of two new livelihood projects to support vulnerable smallholder farming families by the Government of Japan through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka, he said these would be immensely helpful to a large segment of the population in the dry zone.
Prime Minister Gunawardena, Ambassador of Japan Mizukoshi Hideaki and Resident Representative, UNDP Sri Lanka Azusa Kubota launched the 2 new livelihood projects that address to the economic crisis in Sri Lanka at Temple Tree today.
Japan has agreed to provide approximately LKR 1,175 million (approx. USD 3.8 million) to these two programs launched 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.
“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.”
Ambassador Hideaki 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 programmes, targeting women-led MSMEs.
“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,” he said
UNDP Representative Azusa Kubota 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.
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.
Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation Mahinda Amaraweera, Secretary to the Prime Minister Anura Dissanayake, Tetsuya Yamada, Chief Representative of JICA in Sri Lanka, Hon. Mahinda Amaraweera, senior government officials and development partners have attended the launching.