Arthacharya is a Sanskrit term commonly used in Sri Lankan society and well understood by both Sinhala and Tamil speaking communities. Literally it means economic behavior. In a more complete and positive sense Arthacharya means constructive socio-economic activity. Established in 1992, Arthacharya Foundation is an NGO registered initially with the Registrar of Companies and subsequently with the Department of Social Services and the NGO Secretariat of the Government of Sri Lanka. The philosophy, strategy and projects of the Arthacharya Foundation are presented elsewhere in this site.
What Arthacharya does?
Arthacharya socially mobilizes the poorest sections of Sri Lankan society to reduce and alleviate their poverty. This is done through programmes and projects implemented in marginal areas in the country based on needs assessments made by communities themselves with Arthacharya’s assistance. Arthacharya’s priority groups are:
a. Rainfed farmers of the dry zone who have no irrigation and have to be
dependent on seasonal and erratic rainfall.
b. Communities displaced by the war, population pressure and landlessness.
c. Coastal fishing communities
d. Urban slum and shanty dwellers
e. Plantation communities and the villages in the periphery of plantations
Arthacharya’s strategy is to identify diverse issues confronted by these communities whose upward mobility is often blocked by these problems. Following the identification and problem analysis Arthacharya together with the communities develop projects to overcome the issues.
The foremost skill of the organisation is its ability and experience to socially mobilize the poor who are below the poverty line of the country to achieve their goals. During the last 23 years Arthacharya has successfully taken several thousands of poor clearly out of poverty. Arthacharya has a history of developing and refining replicable poverty reduction models. First, the poverty reduction model it developed through microfinance is now an established and financially sustainable model. A few years ago Arthacharya set up a new organisation called Arthavida Intermediary Limited and brought the microfinance programme under its wings in order to prevent microfinance getting mixed with grant based projects. Secondly, the participatory solid waste management is another model that it began to develop 17 years ago. This model was replicated and further developed by many stakeholders including various local authorities and the central government. Currently, two programmes of Arthacharya are in the process of developing replicable models. They are suicide prevention and rehabilitating minor irrigation systems to increase productivity and incomes of rainfed farmers and achieving food security through revalorization of small millets.
Arthacharya’s team is headed by Sathis de Mel who has nearly 40 years of experience behind him in development practice in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Formally trained as an economic geographer and a development planner he was previously the Programme Director of the International Liaison Committee for Food Corps Programmes in Mexico and USA. Also, he was the Programme and Project Director and the Organizing Secretary of the Sarvodaya Movement for ten years.
Dinusha Fernando, Accountant
A qualified accountant who manages the budget planning and monitoring of expenditure. She has 15 years work experience at Arthacharya.
Dinesh Bulathsinghala, Logistic Officer
Dinesh Bulathsinghale is an experienced counselor who has worked for two well known counseling institutions. Also he has 14 years of experience at Arthacharya in varied projects and programmes.
Tikiri Rajapaksha, Programme Officer
Responsible for coordinating between staff, donor organizations, government organizations, other non-governmental organizations and the project offices. Manages all Arthacharya projects at head office level. She has completed a degree in Bachelor of Arts. Also she has a diploma from the Institute of personnel management (IPM) and has completed a post graduate diploma in diplomacy and world affairs.
Mr Hemachandra Samaratunga, Manager, RESMISA Project
With an M.Sc. from University of Reading in UK Samaratunga was formerly the Director of Agriculture Research Institutions in Peradeniya, Makandura and Mahailluppallama. He has a very accomplished background in the field of agriculture research focusing on seeds and plant material development.
Gayani Kumari, Project Manager, Wellawaya
What Arthacharya is capable of
Arthacharya is quite experienced in building active stakeholder partnerships for poverty reduction among stakeholders such as community groups, local civil society organisations, government institutions, research institutions, foreign donor agencies, UN agencies, NGOs, private sector companies and universities etc. Also it is capable of conducting advocacy programmes, lobbying and campaigning on issues of the marginal groups often resulting in contribution to policy development.
To bring the poorest of the country into mainstream of development through an empowerment process and provide the opportunity for them to reap benefits from it by increasing their individual and institutional capacity where they eventually become owners of their programmes and institutions.
To develop and refine a replicable model of poverty alleviation in an environmentally sustainable manner through systematic mobilization of the poor to build a micro-finance culture and develop their livelihood assets.
- Alleviate poverty, hunger and malnutrition among the poor by way of mobilizing their initiatives, institutions, technologies and resources. Bring about active participation of the communities in analysing their problems, designing and implementing their programmes leading to sustainable development.
- Facilitate the efforts of the community by liaising among governmental, non-governmental as well as international institutions.
- Promote an active dialogue among local communities involved in their own development and establish such dialogues with communities in the other countries of the Third World.
- Provide opportunities for the poor to acquire a correct understanding of the socio-economic and other problems of the country and organize educational and training programmes for them to learn ways and means of solving these.
- Increase the potential of locally available human, environmental, material and other resources for the benefit of the communities.
- Promote, organize and engage in economic and financial activities and to carry out such activities both within and outside Sri Lanka for the purpose of creating employment and self financing the programmes, projects and the activities of the Foundation.
- Promote the establishment of legally recognized community organizations to undertake agricultural, industrial, commercial as well as social welfare activities in accordance with Foundations philosophy and to assist such organizations to carry out their development work by providing them with training, management services, technical backstopping and financial assistance.
- Assist and actively participate in the development programmes of the Sri Lankan Government where the objectives are similar to those of the Foundation.
- Facilitate and strengthen the exchange and use of knowledge, experience and material from other nations that may be of value to poverty alleviation and rural development in Sri Lanka.