Friday, September 29, 2006

Solid Waste Management Awareness Programme for School Children

The Canadian Agro-Sustainability Partnership (CASP), together with Practical Action - Ampara, is creating awareness on solid waste management among school children in the tsunami-devastated areas of Ampara District.

Meetings were held with the three zonal directors and the principals of several schools during which venues and dates for conducting the awareness programmes were arranged.

Workshops have now been conducted for students in Grade Six and above, and the first one was held at the Al-Ashrak Vidhyalayam, Nintavur, on September 8th for nearly 120 Muslim and Tamil students from three different schools in the Kalmunai Education Zone.

Two other workshops were also held for schools in Akkaraipattu and Sammanthurai zones on the 14th and 20th September respectively. More programmes of this kind are to be conducted once the Ramadan school holidays are over in Muslim schools.
Teachers, principals, zonal directors, and students alike have recognized the importance of the Solid Waste Management Awareness Programme and expressed their happiness with CASP and Practical Action's work in this area. Given the lack of focus on this subject to date, there is great interest in extending this Programme to all schools in the area.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Paddy Farmers facing several hurdles this season

Paddy (rice) harvesting season in the Ampara District has commenced but farmers are facing some difficulties. One concern is the shortage of harvesting labour in the District. This shortage has been attributed to the restricted movements of the Tamil labour force from other districts due to the conflict-related situation in the Eastern and Northern provinces and the tension prevailing on the east coast. In addition to this, the cost of labour for harvesting has also increased - partly due to high wages paid by INGOs working here and partly because farmers are now also using harvesting machines to harvest their paddy crops. In addition to this, the market prices for paddy are quite low. The combination of high production costs, shortages of labour, and the low prices for their paddy in the marketplace have many paddy cultivating farmers quite worried.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Red Cross Clarifies Mandate in Ampara

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) recently held a press conference at its office in Ampara. The purpose of the announcement, explained Communication Coordinator Davide Vignati, was to inform the media of the ICRC's activities and mandate in Sri Lanka, as there have been concerns about misleading reports in some newspaper articles lately.

“Incorrect information damages the image of ICRC and the works it is carrying out here. ICRC worries about serving the affected people of all communities - immaterial of race, religion, caste, or creed - and not [specifically] the LTTE or the government. Supporting any one of these groups makes our work more complicated and difficult,” explained Mr. Vignati. “ICRC assists only the people affected by natural or man-made disasters. It rescues people and provides food, shelter, water, sanitation, and health assistance. It also creates links among family members lost at the time of disasters.”

Mr. Vignati requested that media personnel verify their information concerning ICRC with him before reporting it to the public. The Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (Ampara), Marie-Servane Desjonqueres, was also present at the press conference.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Vocational Training Centre Students Hold Exhibition

The Danish Red Cross Society held an exhibition and sales at its Vocational Training Centre in Kalmunai on the 1st and 2nd of September, 2006. The Centre's students, each of whom completed a three month course in sewing and other skills, exhibited the items they produced during their training here.

The exhibition was opened at 10am on September 1st by Martha Wimteger, the delegate of the Danish Red Cross. The centre provides training to females over 18 years old who are living in Karaitivu, Sainthamaruthu, Kalmunai, and Maruthamunai. Trainees are chosen from tsunami/war-affected families, female-headed families, low income families, and families with many female members.

Three month training courses are conducted in sewing, English language, and computer skills. The Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka issues certificates to the students who successfully complete the course.

The objective of the centre is to train 300 women every year and provide them with livelihood skills and self-employment opportunities. In the first session, 51 female students successfully completed the course held from February to May 2006, and another 62 students from the second session completed the course held from mid-May to August 2006.