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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sri Lanka: 5 years after the War no Water nor Electricity in Northern and Eastern villages

Gotamini Hathurusinghe
 It can be safely said that 5 years after the war many villages, well over 60% have no basic utilities supplied to them by the government. There are huge implications for the well being and safety of these people as a result. The following are excerpts of a list of GNDs only in Vavuniya and Kilinochchi Districts, which have been provided to the writer by the villagers. The writer has an indepth knowledge about the North and East. Details of the other Districts will follow.

Vavuniya District:

Vavuniya North DS Division – Vedi vaiththa kallu, Maruthodai, Uoonchal katti, Kadkulam. Paddikudiyiruppu, Mannakam, Sinna adampan, Naina madu.

Chettikulam DS Division – Except Government Departments and 5 out of 20 GNDs have no electricity nor water supply

Vavuniya DS Division – Eachchankulam, Kalmadu

Kilinochchi District:

Poonakary North DSD –

Samipuram, Nallur, Karukathievu, Gnanamadam, Chettikurichchi, Selvapuram, Valaipadu, Kiranchchi, Veravil, Nachchikudah, Madduvui Nadu East & west, Gowthari munai, pallavarayakaddu.

Kandavalai DSD- Puliyanpokkanai, Uooriyan, Korakkalkaddu, Kallaru. Sivapuram, Piramanthanarudiyiruppu, kalmadunadu, Thaduvankotti., Nathan kudigiruppu, Kalmadunagar, Thaduvankotti.

Kilinochchi Karaichchi DSD – Kannakipuram, Vannneri, Aanaivilunthan, Puthumurippu, Uoottupulam, Kanthapuram, Akkarayankulam, Maniyarkulam, Konavil. Vivekananthanagar, Vaddakachchi, Ramanathapuram, Selvanagar, Ponnagar, Ellukadu, Neevil, Mayavanoor, Mavadiamman

Palai DSD- Soranpattu, Vananankerni. Kovilvayal. Iththavil, Mukamalai, Allipalai. Eyakkachchi, Mapar, Paranthan.

It is ironic that the particular government institutions which are supposed to look after such needs of the people are the only buildings that have water and electricity supply. The lack of water supply in particular has severe implications on “ a life back to normal” .

The same list can be supplied for villages in the Eastern Province as well. This is even more ironic given the fact that the East saw the end of the war well over six years ago.

If the basic needs of a group of people cannot be met, steps to  reconciliation in the psychological sphere of truth, apology and trust building is but a pipe dream. Sinhala extremists would like to show that poor rural Sinhalese too are suffering in a similar manner. But that is not correct as most villages south of Anuradhapura are much better off than the North and East.

As a result of this neglect many villages are severely food insecure. One village in the District of Trincomalee in the Eastern Province  is home to over 100 families of which 30 families eat only rice. An 82 year old woman  from this community recently died of starvation. The news did not receive any publicity as the Army threatened the householders not to disclose this fact. Due to  dry weather and lack of water supply,  lack of seed and plant material and other inputs, these agricultural communities are facing severe food shortages.  Over 1/3 of children under the age of 2 years are underweight in Trincomalee as gleaned from the government’s own growth monitoring information. 71% of this 1/3rd are growth falters, in other words not having a hope of improvement for the next 3 to 6 months. This was the nutrition status of Sri Lankan children at national level well over a decade ago.

All these problems are coupled with a lack of livelihood options, low levels of skills and employability (Sarvananthan, Point Pedro Institute, Report on Employability in the Northern Province, 2012)

The Government of Sri Lanka really needs to bend backwards and accelerate activities from Relief to Reconciliation in a meaningful way if we are to salvage the bodies, hearts and minds of the poor people of the North and East, many of whom have no connections to the diaspora.


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