We are working with local NGOs to help set up and fund small-scale livelihood projects for vulnerable communities. One of these projects is an agricultural livelihood project in a small village just outside of Kilinochchi in the Northern Province. This project will help 20 families who lost their homes during the war, generate an income through farming. The families are currently living in very basic temporary housing and share a few communal toilets. They make a small income through carrying out laboring work across the district and have started home vegetable gardens for subsistence. Before being moved to their current location, the community was resettled in a flood prone area and over the last two years their temporary homes were destroyed twice by monsoonal flooding. As part of setting up the project we travelled out to the village to identify plots of land for the families to use.
Accompanying us on our trip were some of the local staff, Indran and Thavaprakash and Manor the Secretary of the Rural Development Society who was our resident agriculture expert. We spent the day meeting people in the community, visiting potential sites, looking down half built wells and enquiring about land ownership. Due to the war there are large areas of vacant farmland that have become overgrown and abandoned.
It was hot hard work and a hard earned thirst, needs a nice fresh drink and the best fresh drink is a coconut. If climbing coconut trees was an Olympic sport, Manor would be the world champion. Before you could say you were thirsty he was up a tree flinging down coconuts. One minute you are talking soil conditions and the next minute he has thrown off his shoes and is scaling a tree, knife in mouth.
By the end of the day we had picked the 10 acres of land for the project and were ready to start negotiating contracts with local land owners. The next phase of the project is to work with the community to identify the families who would most benefit from working on the land. Stay tuned.