|About Sri Lanka
A beautiful tropical country with diverse human and natural resources, Sri Lanka has struggled for decades in a wasteful civil war. Poverty rates in the densely populated rural and coastal areas are often above 30 percent. In these area, jobs in traditional cottage industries fishing, production and processing of coconut meat and fiber, tea, rubber, fruits and vegetables are low paying but crucial to survival of the poor. Equally important are the numerous small family businesses in manufacturing, trade and transportation. For many Sri Lankans, these livelihoods are the only realistic alternative to a life in the cities’ slums.
Tsunami Disaster Relief for Sri Lanka:
Lagoon fishing boat
|Workers at coconut fiber (coir) mill.|
After the Tsunami
Tens of thousands of coastal families lost not only family members and homes, but also their livelihoods. Gone or destroyed are tools and supplies, equipment for sewing and spinning yarn, food stands, tuk-tuks, fishing boats and nets. Many of the displaced now live in refugee camps with no way to support themselves. Large aid organizations have provided shelter and staved off starvation and disease. Yet, even months after the tsunami, there is minimal support to help these families and their small businesses to “get on their feet again,” condemning them to an aid-dependent life for the foreseeable future. This disrupted productivity needlessly extends their suffering and harms their communities, which rely on the goods and services these family businesses provide.
Several of SECONDAID’s team members have worked for years with the Sri Lankan coconut fiber industry, both in business and as part of a USAID sponsored development project. We have established a network of personal and business relationships and love the country and its people. In the wake of the tsunami, these relationships motivated us to draw upon our experience with small businesses to provide direct support to those most affected, yet not effectively reached, by aid efforts.