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.

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

  • Power of women

    In the wake of climate change, natural disasters are increasing. In Sri Lanka, it is traditionally men who lead the relief work. Diakonia wants to change that. When women are involved in designing the relief...
  • Own livelihood gives meaning to Nandani’s life

    “I now know that I can do something with my life.” Nandani is a member of a marginalised ethnic group in Sri Lanka, she is a woman and a single parent. All these factors in themselves were challenging, but the...
  • A new school brought hope to the village

    The children used to stay at home since education was not a priority. Today they can introduce themselves in English, they are self-confident and able to converse.
  • Empowered to start up her own business

    When Thevamalar Kumaraguru’s husband abandoned the family she found herself forced to beg for food and money from relatives. With a deformity in her ankle Thevamalar felt it would be hard to support her four...
  • 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...

Download documents

Fact sheet about Diakonia in Sri Lanka 416 KB PDF