An home based income generating avenue for returnee women in the North.
Securing Livelihoods in the North – Thustanthini, a breadwinner of 8 in the family.
Since, a large number of families returned to their places of derivation in the Northern Districts in Sri Lanka. There was an urgent need of supportive measures that safeguard the economic stability and safekeeping of returnee families. RAHAMA Sri Lanka a clone emerged under the proficient directions of FORUT Norway took a vital initiative to implemented the Northern re-building actions in collaboration with authorities. Whole process that put into practice was to facilitate the re-vitalization of safe living under newly built shelters while also, assisting families to start livelihood activities in 5 districts aiming at improved social as well as the food security through the funding assistance provided by Norwegian agencies and the Norwegian embassy in Sri Lanka.
Kovilkadu in Kilinochchi district is one of the districts where the returnee families are resettled in newly cleared land. More than 1000 families have been re-settled therein, with the intervention of RAHAMA as well.
Thustanthini is a resident of Kovilkadu resettlement project where 50 returnee families were resettled by RAHAMA, through the resources provided jointly by government and RAHAMA. One serious challenge was that a percentage of families could not re-occupy their former land due to the incomplete clearance of land mines and, they wanted alternate land allocated by government prior to their return. Thusyanthini is one of them who travelled to different places during the war and now she received a plot of land to build the shelter with water and sanitation facilities.
Thusyanthini was extremely happy to start her life with thousands of new hopes upon receipt of the shelter. Yet, she started sharing one more grievance that beyond safe living that how she can earn for the living of her family. She is the breadwinner of 8 in her family. RAHAMA realized this issue as an indispensable matter since women are poorly paid when they do casual labour work, moreover, they are to face difficulties to travel distances to find such work.
The staff of RAHAMA conducted group discussions with women and found that the surrounding land is fertile and with access for water thus, jointly agreed to start vegetable cultivation as a supportive measure to strengthen the domestic economy in a short time span. One added feature was that Thusyanthini agreed with other women not to apply pesticides and artificial fertilizer instead they practiced traditional farming methods while using organic fertilizer to an highest extent. Thusyanthini after the second and third harvests shared her views on the success of this Livelihoods activity as a rock-hard supportive measure for a stable family living which has produced her an added income of 60 – 70 US $ every month. Thusyanthini also found support to decide the crop every season after a study on the forecast sales value to avoid market fluctuation or lower prices due to over-supply in the market.
She commented that “ I have improved my earnings and can support the family, in addition I have started savings too, to be eligible to access for a loan for further investments to broaden the income”
RAHAMA staff asked Thusyanthini whether she has a message to share with others. She promptly said “…..firstly I thank RAHAMA and the district authorities and agencies supported financially, for both resettlement and the livelihoods, and want to emphasize that we need to utilize whatever the little resources we acquire and to invest in moderate scale to avoid risks and to learn how to overcome the market tendencies and to move into subsequent steps with confidence… Unless you produce something nobody will trust you to invest on you