South Asia Environmental Capacity Building

“South Asia Regional Connectivity Program- South Asia Environmental Capacity building – Agricultural and Water Pollution”

“South Asia Regional Connectivity Program- South Asia Environmental Capacity building – Agricultural and Water Pollution”

South Asia (SA) is a home to only a quarter of the global population, but more than two-fifths of the world’s poor and one third of world’s undernourished people, and the majority of food insecure, disaster prone, and climate vulnerable people also live in the region. In addition, the countries have thousands of reservoirs, ponds, wetlands, ancient and newly constructed irrigation canals and reservoirs, and coastal aquifers important for human livelihoods and civilization. Several of water bodies are wetlands / Ramsar sites that are economically important due to tourism potential and ecologically important owing their biological richness, mainly endemic, rare, and threatened species. Many water sources including the region’s largest rivers–Indus, Ganga, and Bramhaputra–are transboundary in nature and are a source of cooperation or conflict. Fifty-seven out of 405 rivers in Bangladesh are transboundary; all the rivers in Nepal eventually merge with Ganges that runs through India and Bangladesh; India shares water bodies with Nepal and Bangladesh. Being an island, Sri Lanka has different types of water resources. Water quality in the Kelani River, one of the major water sources for Colombo, suffers from untreated or insufficiently treated wastewater (Ratnayake 2010). The river is also affecting drinking water due to saltwater intrusion caused by sand mining activities, resulting in increased court cases over sand-mining from 709 in 2002 to 2,496 in 2005 (MENR and UNEP 2009). Pathogenic pollution on groundwater due poor sanitation (MENR and UNEP 2009; Nandalal 2010). Agriculture including livestock, industrial bi-product, domestic wastes, and deforestation are among key sources of water pollution. These activities cause water turbidity, toxicity, algal bloom, contamination, eutrophication, and other types of problems, ultimately leading to negative consequences on agriculture, livestock, ecosystem health, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, which ultimately impact the health, livelihoods and wellbeing of human being. Such problems are more detrimental to poor countries, mainly among poor, illiterate, food insecure and unemployed households. SA countries, mainly Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are among highly vulnerable countries to land-based water pollution and its consequences.

As part of the project, “South Asia Regional Connectivity Program- South Asia Environmental Capacity building – Agricultural and Water Pollution”, Caritas Switzerland may engage with India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as notified in Congressional Notification CN 17-091. GOALS This project will advance the following Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) strategic objective: • Help achieve more broad based and sustainable outcomes in health, food security, management of the environment, and economic opportunity.

Vocational Trainng Project Tanamalwila

Employment Generation for the Underemployed Poor in Tanamalwila through an Innovative and Low Cost Method of Skills Training

The recently published World Bank’s country diagnosis on Sri Lanka has identified three poorest areas of the country. They are the war affected north and east, plantations communities of south Indian origin and Moneragala . Though a comparison between the DS divisions in Moneragala district has not been made by this document the highest incidence of suicides recorded in Tanamalwila is a reliable indicator of the seriousness of poverty and related multitude of factors which contribute to the former. The Tanamalwila DS division covering a land area of 633 sq. km. consists of a total population of 26,208. The density of population in Tanamalwila varies between 41 and 50 while the adjoining Wellawaya where AF and AIL have been operational has a density of 101-150. This is an indicator of Tanamalwila’s comparative disadvantage and backwardness even against another marginal DS division such as Wellawaya where the higher level access to resources and services has attracted a larger population.
In terms of poverty, 40% of the population in Tanamalwila being below the poverty line of the country against the national average of 6.7% is yet another indicator of the seriousness of poverty in the DS division area.
The most dominating livelihood activity in the area is agriculture with 96.6% of households engaged in it. This also happens to be the highest in the country among DS divisions. Besides, 71% of the labour force is engaged in agriculture against the national average of 37%. In addition to having the highest percentage of agricultural households (96.6%) the highest share of income coming from agriculture which is 93% is also reported from Tanamalwila among all DS divisions in the country. The lack of diversity in livelihood activities in the context of diverse challenges encountered by agriculture has placed the communities in Tanamalwila at a high level of vulnerability.
90% of the farmers are engaged in rainfed agriculture with no access to minor or major irrigation. As such they are often at the mercy of highly seasonal and erratic rainfall. Also the majority are thus able to cultivate only one crop a year. In other words, seasonality is the key feature of livelihood activities due to heavy dependence on seasonal rainfall received during four months of the year pushing them out of agriculture during the rest of the year. For their survival many work as manual labourers in the lands of landowning rich farmers or seasonally migrate to urban centres to find employment as labourers.
It is underemployment, in this context, that has put them into poverty and a vicious cycle of indebtedness where there is hardly any way out. Therefore, this project aims to reduce underemployment particularly among the youth through employment creation.
The goal of the project is to ensure that increased opportunities exist for youth, (Young Men and Women) to engage themselves in productive employment and voice and express opinions as well as harness innate potentials so that they become involved as productive citizens of the country while uplifting their living standards and preventing suicides.
Beauty culture, Mobile phone repairs, House Wiring, Computer skills, Food technology, Sewing and Handicraft training were given. Now we are implementing the second phase of the programme. This includes Beauty culture and Hair dressing, Curtain making, Handicrafts skills training, Industrial Electrical skill training, Domestic electronic and electrical appliance repairing skill training, Computer Skills training and Mobile phone repairing skill training.
The project is funded by Sampath Foundation Netherlands and Wilde Gesse Foundation.


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


Joany 122 212
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


Egbert Joke Guido 366
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.