Diakonia - People change the world

Sri Lanka

Diakonia and our partner organizations are working towards a sustainable change in Sri Lanka, by promoting a holistic approach through 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 suffering from a bitter civil war. The fight was between the Government and the Tamil Tigers, which 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 over abuses by both sides still continue.

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

The new government has also signed the UNHRC resolutions which was co-sponsored by the US and UK regarding the last stages of the war.

Space for civil society to engage

When the war ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government focused on economic and infrastructure development, which has enabled Sri Lanka to gain the status as a lower middle income country. However, there is still an urgent need for accountability and reconciliation if the country's conflict is to be sustainably determined, since the root causes of the conflict still remain un-resolved. With the new government in place there is hope that Sri Lanka will be able to proceed towards reconciliation and peace and the space for civil and political rights to be increased. Civil society needs to be organized and united to make use of this space.

Low representation of women

Even though Sri Lanka boasts of having the first female prime minister in the world  in 1960 and also having had a woman as the Executive President 1994, statistics for 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 the 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

Our main aim is to strengthen civil society through networking, creating synergies and collaborations in order to empower marginalized people to claim their rights.

The thematic areas are:

Social and economic justice


Gender equality

Peace building

Climate change.

Sri Lanka is prone to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, cyclones, tsunamis, and drought. Disaster mitigation is part of the ongoing programs and we can also give humanitarian support during disaster situations.

Some of our results

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

The tsunami in 2004 affected Sri Lanka severely.  After Diakonia and our partner organisations carried  out the humanitarian support, we stayed on and conducted local trainings on how to react to future catastrophes. Now most of the people in our project areas are prepared and know how to respond if a natural disaster will struck in the future.

Read more about our work in Sri Lanka

  • 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.
  • Sri Lanka: 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...
  • Sri Lanka

    Diakonia and our partner organizations in Sri Lanka aim to strengthen civil society and empower marginalized people. Our partners also promote and defend human rights, equality and support socio-economic justice. Diakonia 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...