Diakonia - People change the world

Sri Lanka

Diakonia and our partner organizations are working towards sustainable change in Sri Lanka, promoting a holistic approach by mainstreaming conflict sensitivity, gender, environment and climate change.

5/10/2017

Sri Lanka is a democracy with a population of over 21 million. Between 1983 and 2009, Sri Lanka was ravaged by a bitter civil war between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, who sought the creation of an independent Tamil state. Finally, in May 2009, the Tamil Tigers were violently defeated by the Sri Lankan Army, and a large number of civilians were killed or displaced. Accusations of abuses by both sides still continue to this day.

At the beginning of 2015, a new president and a coalition government comprising the two main political parties were elected. The new government aims to draft a new constitution that is both democratic and inclusive, regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity.

Scope for the involvement of civil society

When the war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government focused on economic and infrastructure development, which has enabled Sri Lanka to achieve the status of a lower middle income country. However, there is still an urgent need for accountability and reconciliation, as the root causes of the conflict still remain unresolved. With the new government in place, there is hope that Sri Lanka will be able to proceed towards peace and reconciliation and that the scope for civil and political rights will be be increased.

Poor representation of women

Even though Sri Lanka boasts of having had the first female prime minister in the world (in 1960), statistics regarding the representation of women in elected bodies are the lowest in South Asia. Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia without a quota for women at local government level.
Violence against women is also a serious problem in Sri Lanka, where at least 60 percent of Sri Lankan women have experienced domestic violence.

Our work

Diakonia and our partner organizations are working towards sustainable change in Sri Lanka, promoting a holistic approach by mainstreaming conflict sensitivity, gender equality and environment. Our main aim is to strengthen civil society through networking, creating synergies and collaborations to empower marginalised people in asserting their rights.

The thematic areas for our work are social and economic justice, democracy, gender equality, peace building and climate change.

Sri Lanka is prone to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, cyclones, tsunamis and droughts. Disaster mitigation forms part of the ongoing programmes, and we can also provide humanitarian support in disaster situations.

Diakonia’s work makes a difference

During the presidential elections in 2015, all of our partners worked together to encourage people to exercise their right to vote. The outcome was a more than 70 per cent turnout and in the north and east of the country, it was even higher. This probably marked the start of the process towards a more democratic Sri Lanka.

The tsunami in 2004 affected Sri Lanka severely. After Diakonia and our partner organizations had provided humanitarian support, we stayed on and conducted local training programmes on how to react to future disasters. Now, most of the people in our project areas are prepared and know how to respond if a natural disaster strikes in the future.

Read more about our work in Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka: A small loan for a better future

    When the civil war in Sri Lanka was over, Thangarasa Yogeswary had nothing in her hands, but a desire to lift her family from poverty. Today she has started her own concrete making business and is working hard...
  • Sri Lanka: Going against the norm

    Mazakeen Riyas needed to take her children to school, and the most pragmatic solution was to buy a motorbike. But she wasn't prepared for the reactions from neighbours and some friends.
  • Sri Lanka:Anuradha has started to see a new world

    Disabled people are often stigmatised in the Sri Lankan society and opportunities to education and work are few. But young Anuradha Udayanga has started to see a new world, thanks to guidance and couching. Now he’s dreaming of selling the bricks and pots he learnt to make.
  • Finds strenght in her savings group

    During the long war in Sri Lanka, many thousands of people were internally displaced. Many of them are traumatized by the war and when returning to their former homes they are often met by nothing. They have to...
  • Suriya gave me hope of making my own living

    There was a time when Niventhini Uthayakumar and her husband constantly argued about the lack of money for food and schooling for their children. Finally, she became so despondent that she tried to take her own...
  • Just copy and paste

    The report Just copy and paste has its starting point in successful climate adaptation projects in Sri Lanka. With climate finance these projects can be multiplied, to secure a sustainable development for people affected by climate change. Read more about the report