Revalorizationof Small Millets project is an activity being implemented in Tanamalwila in the Moneragala district together with Dhan Foundation in Madurai, India, LIBIRD in Nepal and six Canadian Universities to increase food security among the poor communities. Project is funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.The concept of the project is to address the serious issue of limited food security among the dry zone farmers whose main agricultural activity at present is cultivating cash crops.
Subject to the fluctuations of market prices the cash crop farmers are often face losses. This reduces their purchasing power, creating vulnerability with regard to the food requirements of the family. It is the shift they made from a more balanced system of cultivation where they grew paddy and millets to cash crops which made the difference. Focus on cash crops reduced the concentration on paddy while abandoning small millets inmost cases.The project aims not only to increase production through research and technical interventions but also to promote processing technologies to popularize its consumption.
In terms of the stakeholder partnership that it is building the project has so far mobilized thecommunities in Tanamalwila, the Department of Agriculture and its Research Institute in Angunakolapelessa and University of Ruhuna in implementing the project. It will also mobilize the private sector in the future when the project arrives at the stage of marketing.
Suicide Prevention Project
Sri Lanka has been one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of the incidence of suicides according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) during the last twenty years. When Sri Lanka wasone in the world fifteen years ago Tanamalwila Divisional Secretary’s Division happened to be the number one place in the country for suicides, thus making itself the highest concentration of suicides in the world. It was at this point Arthacharya decided to expand its programme to Tanamalwilaeven non-governmental operations were very weak.In a situation where the medical authoritiesnot recognized suicides in the dry zone as a social problem they lack any special strategy to tackle it though it has reached extremely high proportions. With only one other NGO active in the field this serious problem remains almost totally unattended by the health authorities from a prevention perspective.
Arthacharya’s strategy is to develop a participatory preventive model involving all the relevant stakeholders.The ongoing activities include current reality audits, institution building, group interactions, and identification of suicide candidates, counseling and mobilization programmes for them and training for all the stakeholders. Project is currently funded by the Cordaid and Egbert Hendriks Foundation in the Netherlands and guided and trained by psychologists Joke van Meerten and Joany Spearings.
Education Support Project
School children in remote areas such as Wellawaya are faced with the challenge of tough competition coming from the children with better facilities in more developed areas. The lack of good schools with good teachers often prevents them from entering the university. With assistance from Egbert Hendriks Foundation financial assistance is provided to children identified from poor families who have excelled in studies.