Assessment of Needs for Conflict Affected Farmers


Map of Sri Lanka

The civil conflict in the North East region of Sri Lanka during the last 14 years has resulted in loss of lives, massive displacement of populations, the flight of large numbers of nationals to other countries, and widespread destruction of infrastructure and private property.

During the last few years, and particularly since the breakdown of the peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) which led to a new round of armed conflict, the situation in northern Sri Lanka has deteriorated rapidly, resulting in an increase in the number of IDPs, in the Jaffna Peninsula and in the "Vanni" region.

The Government of Sri Lanka is facing the enormous task of providing the urgently needed relief to the affected population and assisting the returnees to resume normal economic activities, as well as rehabilitating the different economic sectors in the areas where security permits.

The provision of immediate assistance is an essential step in rebuilding trust and confidence among the population and will go a long way towards restoring peace and stability in this troubled region.

In May 1996, the Government unveiled an ambitious plan to rebuild Jaffna and resuscitate the economy in the area. This plan was part of the overall Government strategy to find a lasting political solution to the conflict including the submission to parliament of a devolution package which would give greater autonomy to the regions, continue the military pressure on the LTTE and support the rehabilitation of the economy.

At the request of - and with funding from UNDP - FAO fielded a mission in Autumn 1997 from its Special Relief Operations Service (TCOR). It carried out, in cooperation with relevant Government institutions and technical ministries in charge of coordinating relief to the affected population, a rapid evaluation of the situation and of the most urgent needs for the agriculture sector in the conflict affected areas of the North of Sri Lanka, and especially in Jaffna Peninsula.

It was found that since the last mission carried out by FAO in the Peninsula in September 1996, the social and economic situation has improved considerably in Jaffna. Up to 68 548 persons have returned to the Peninsula during 12 months, and the resettlement of this displaced population has started. However, 65% of the population is still dependent on food rations and up to 250 000 people who fled in 1995 have not yet returned.

The challenge today in Jaffna is to assist the resettlement of the displaced persons in the Peninsula and the immediate rehabilitation of the economy to encourage the return of those who left.

In the "Vanni", due to the ongoing military operations and the previous influx of population from Jaffna Peninsula, it is estimated that a total of 541 000 persons (61% of the population) are internally displaced.

Emergency and rehabilitation needs for agriculture, livestock and fisheries in the northern regions and particularly in Jaffna are considerable. Since September 1996, FAO’s assistance to food producers in Jaffna Peninsula has been substantial and several programmes have been funded following FAO’s initiative in 1996 by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Norway, FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme, USAID, UNHCR, and the Government of Sri Lanka.

FAO sees a need to continue its programme of assistance with special emphasis on the return and the resettlement of the farm populations, and is willing to provide expertise in terms of coordination and technical assistance to the humanitarian organizations involved in the sector.

The FAO mission formulated eleven project profiles for a total of US$ 4.1 million to assist the conflict-affected farmers as shown below:

Top Priority for Immediate Implementation (US$)

Jaffna Peninsula


1. Support to Resettlement of Farm Families in Jaffna Peninsula

873 000

2. Support to the Return of the Displaced Farm Population through the Supply of Emergency Agricultural Kits

499 500

3. Assistance to Fishermen for Lagoon and Coastal Fisheries

597 000

4. Provision of One Small-scale Ice Making Machine to the Fishermen’s Cooperative Union and One to the Parastatal CEYNOR Company

366 500

5. Land Reclamation and Rehabilitation and Repair of Dykes and Bunds

224 000

6. Strengthening of District Agricultural Training Centre, Thirunelveli:

1) Support to the Establishment of a Mother Plant Orchard of Fruit Crops and Nursery for Production of High Quality Planting Materials.

2) Rehabilitation of Extension Services Capacity

90 000

7. Support to Artisanal Processing of Milk in Rural Areas, Using Cream Separators

50 000

8. Urgent Supply of Agricultural Emergency Kits to the Displaced Population and Conflict Affected Farmers in the "Uncleared" Areas of "Vanni"

515 000

9. Support to the Resettlement of Farm Families in the "Newly Cleared" Area of "Vanni"

625 700

10. Preparation for the Rehabilitation of the Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries Sub-Sectors in Jaffna Peninsula and in the Northern Region

116 000

11. Technical Assistance to Humanitarian Programmes Targeting Conflict Affected Farmers in the North

162 000

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Last Updated on 02/02/98
By FAO/Algardy