The Women and Children’s Desk (WCD) at Kanagarayankulam Police Station, Vavuniya was jointly inaugurated last week by the Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, H.E. Tung-Laï Margue, the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) Ms Una McCauley and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative, Mr. Tim Sutton. The Deputy Inspector General of Police and the Government Agent for Vavuniya also participated in the event.
The WCD, which was funded as part of the European Union-Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) and implemented by UNICEF, will benefit close to 5,000 people in the Kanagarayankulam area. Specifically, the building of a WCD, which is a safe and private space for women and children who are victims of abuse and violence to confidentially report their cases to authorities, forms a key element of UNICEF’s child protection programme in the region by ensuring that vulnerable children have a protective space that respects their dignity and their right to privacy. The Department of Police, the Ministry of Law and Order, the Probation Department, the National Child Protection Authority and the Rural Development Foundation are all involved in this initiative.
Also during their visit, in Nelumkulum, Vavuniya District, Ambassador Margue and UNRC McCauley handed over equipment to the Technical College of the Department of Technical Education and Training. Construction is a high growth sector in Vavuniya due to infrastructure development and resettlement. The lack of up-to-date equipment for construction-related training led to funding assistance being granted through EU-SDDP, at the request of the Department of Technical Education and Training and the District Secretariat. The ILO is the implementing partner for this initiative. Approximately 300 people have already benefitted from this project, while 250 people are expected to benefit annually.
EU-SDDP is also providing support to the Vavuniya General Hospital through an UNOPS-implemented sewerage and waste water treatment facility, which was officially handed over by the visiting delegates including Ambassador Margue, UNRC McCauley and Director and Representative United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Ms Francoise Jacob. The newly constructed facility fulfills a long term need of the hospital, which previously had to use gully-bowsers to clear the overloaded septic tanks and release this sludge to an open area 12km away at least 6 times a day. The new facility will treat the sewerage and also the waste water earlier drained into surface water drains or into the ground, which will allow cleaned water to be released in to the environment. Through this intervention, it is hoped that the public health risks created by the sewerage and waste water of the hospital will greatly reduce, and that the overall sanitary and hygienic conditions of the hospital will improve, while reducing the financial burden of disposing the sewage water on a daily basis. In addition to the large number of patients and staff of the hospital, approximately 400, 000 people from Vavuniya, Kilinonochi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and parts of the Anuradhapura District will benefit from cleaner ground and surface water.
While in Vavuniya District, Ambassador Margue and UNRC McCauley also attended an opening ceremony of the Local Economic Development Centre and Economic Advisory Service unit at Venkalachedikulam. The Local Economic Centre aims to be a hub bringing together producers and consumers to generate economic activity and production in the Division. Many of the enterprises linked to the centre are women-owned. The Economic Advisory Service Centre provides advisory services to newly established businesses and promotes the growth of existing enterprises. The services include making local businesses aware of the available resources available and social schemes through which they can increase employment and revenue. The officers have been trained to provide business development support, continuous mentoring and counselling to ensure that local economic enterprises thrive. So far, six Producer Groups and organisations, consisting of about 120 individuals have benefitted from the initiative. This too has been funded through EU-SDDP and implemented by UNDP.
Jointly implemented by five agencies of the United Nations namely UNDP, UNICEF, UNOPS, FAO and ILO, and IFC from the World Bank Group, the EU-SDDP is a European Union-funded development cooperation programme with a total financial grant support of EUR 60 million. Its objective is to contribute to poverty reduction and livelihood development in seven districts in the North and East to bridge the socio-economic gap with the rest of the country. The programme supports the conflict-affected districts of Batticaloa, Mannar, Vavuniya, Ampara, Monaragala, Anuradhapura and Puttalam impacting half a million people.