Financial Times

Japanese grant for women in North-East underutilised due to conflict

By Dilshani Samaraweera

Japanese aid for disadvantaged women in the North and East has been underutilised because of the escalating conflict.

Last week the World Bank announced the completion of its women’s empowerment project under the Japan Social Development Fund, targeting poor women in the South, North and East. Initially a grant of US $ 0.9 million was allocated for the project in 2003. This was expanded by another grant of US$ 1.0 million after the tsunami in 2004 December.

However, it was noted at the end of the project period, that while work in the South had met targets, project activities in the North and East have not met targets due to the escalating conflict.

“In the North and the East some activities were not done because of the security situation and because of this, some funds were not utilised. About 40% of the funds provided to Sewa Lanka Foundation were not utilised,” said Ms Dharshana Senanayake, the additional director general of the Department of External Resources, at a meeting organised by the World Bank last week. The Sewa Lanka Foundation, which was responsible for work in the North and East, explained that due to the escalation of the conflict, targeted families and partner organisations have been displaced, preventing project delivery.

However, the project performance was much better in the South. The Women Development Federation (WDF), which was responsible for work in the South, reported a successful project conclusion with the creation of 17 Janashakthi Banks and many lending activties for women entrepreneurs.

The project attempted to promote capacity building of village women at community level, empower women to take charge of their economic, social, and financial affairs and promoted women-run, community-based organisations and village-level sustainable banking.

The overall project implementation agency was the Department of External Resources and the project was managed by the National Development Bank.

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