Institution First, Concrete next; Infrastructure and Livelihoods, Rural people need both
Hon. Jagath Pushpakumara, Minister of Rural Livelihood Development Joined the World Bank Review Team together with Hon.Dilan Perera, the Deputy Minister Constitutional Affairs and Ethnic Integration, Justice and Law Reform and a Member of the Opposition of the Uva Provincial Council at the launching ceremony of the drinking water project of Perahettiya Gemidiriya Village built by the community.
Ms. Meena Munshi, The Task Leader of the World Bank for Gemidiriya Project, accompanied by Dr. Terrence Abeysekara, Co Task Leader, and Mr. S. Manoharan of the World Bank, Colombo, joined the community of Perahettiya in Badulla Distritct. The Gemidiriya Village Institution pooled the resources with the 10 Golden Rules of Unity, Self Esteem, Accountability, Trust, Realism, Thrift, Transparency, Equality, Consensus and Sincerity which bind everyone consisting of the three ethnic groups of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim in harmony, working together adopting the community driven development approach for village development.
Lifting water from the bottom to the hill top; What an achievement !
Cement, sand and concrete alone would not produce sustainable community development. People need social organization first and supplementary resources to practice building basic economic and social infrastructure facilities that would complement livelihood development. The Gemidiriya village institutional model combines both.
At the ceremony, people garlanded the two village elders who donated land for the well to ease the severe problem of drinking water. Though the two elders had no drinking water problem they were empathetic enough to feel for those who were in need. The first connection was given to the poorest person of the village, an elderly disabled woman who has been unable to walk for the past 10 years.
A second drinking water project is being planned for the plantation community. The Manager of the plantation has agreed to allocate a piece of land to construct the water storage tank.
The protected drinking water source
The Perahaettiya Village Savings and Credit Organization has doubled the initial fund for livelihood support from Rs. 1.2 million to 2.4 million maintaining 100% credit recovery during a short period of one year. The whole village is considered a school of Gemidirya with evidence of practicing principles of good governance. The village People's Company produces exercise books and markets them as an income generating business venture.
The Minister of Rural Livelihood Development described how the Gemidiriya program complements Gama Neguma (Village Upliftment) a concept of His Excellency the President to mobilize resources to the poorer villages for infrastructure and community development. Resources are needed to provide for the basic economic and social infrastructure including inter village road access, electricity and water supply services, along with awareness creation and capacity building. The Perahettiya Village demonstrated how an empowered community could use decision making power, mobilize community contribution and ensure transparency and accountability in a sustainable manner.
All the three communities, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim wanted to be members of one village organization. In responding to a query as to whether the people favored a separate village organization for the Tamil community, they said ,”look at what happened to the country. We need no divisions in our village. We want to be together”.
Part of Perahettiya village community (Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim) attending
the inauguration ceremony of their first project for drinking water.
The Gemidiriya Community Development and Livelihood Improvement Project operates in seven districts, in 524 villages with 68,567 members forming 10,995 small groups investing Rs 85.5 million in livelihood development activities. The Village Organizations of Gemidiriya have consistently maintained 99% of credit recovery during 1 to 2 year operations of its pilot, first batch and second batch villages.