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Livelihoods for the Poor and Vulnerable



Small and Micro Enterprises
  Since its inception, PRDA’s main thrust has been to enhance the economic status of the poor and vulnerable families in rural communities. Several programmes were geared towards achieving this objective and they included capacity building training in micro and small entrepreneurship development, vocational and technical training, micro finance programmes ranging from revolving loan funds at community level to comparatively larger loans provided through a community managed Enterprise Promotion Trust (EPT) and commercial banks, introduction of appropriate technology, facilitation of market linkages etc. More than 1000 rural women in the Puttalam and Gampaha districts benefited from PRDA’s livelihood development programmes and are engaged in diverse forms of micro enterprise such as food preparation, handicraft production, dress-making, small-scale service centres, food processing, trading, agriculture, animal husbandry etc. These micro entrepreneurs generate supplementary incomes to their families. Of these women entrepreneurs, more than 400 have graduated to the level of small entrepreneurs with stable levels of production and linkages to markets outside their villages.

A producer with her pol-matolu handicrafts


A brick-maker

Support for animal husbandry   Seasonal incomes for women through cashew processing


Restoring Tsunami Affected Livelihoods
  In the tsunami affected communities of Mawella and Mirissa in the south of Sri Lanka, PRDA supported more than 600 families to restore their lost livelihoods. Priority was placed on women headed households, very poor families and the families with disabled members. The type of support provided included both material assistance and cash grants. The value of the assistance provided for the tsunami affected families exceeded US Dollars 250,000.

Sewing machines for dress-makers in Mirissa

  Certificates awarded for trainees (Mirissa)

Support for a retail grocery



Support for Small-Scale Fishery Sector
  For the small-scale fishermen in Mawella who lost their boats and fishing gear in the tsunami, PRDA provided 26 boats; 35 outboard motor engines, and 32 fishing nets. The total value of the assistance provided was around US Dollars 160,000. Also, a number of retail fish traders were supported to revive their businesses by providing them with motor cycles and push cycles. Nearly 25 fish traders received push cycles and motor cycles in support of their business, the total value of which was around US Dollars 22,000.

Motor cycles for fish traders in Mawella   Boats with engines for fishermen in Mawella


Support for Small-Scale Prawn Farmers
In the early 1990s, when the corporate sector started acquiring large tracks of lagoon adjacent land in the Puttalam district for prawn cultivation using high technology, as an alternative, PRDA mobilized lagoon-adjacent local communities to engage in small-scale prawn farming using cost-effective simple production techniques.  

A small-scale prawn farm

Acquisition of land around lagoons by outside businesses destroyed the livelihood opportunities of the local communities who largely depended on lagoon fishing and the produce from the lagoon-adjacent lands. These lands were legally owned by the State but were used by the local communities as a common property resource for grazing their animals, obtaining firewood as well as timber to build houses. The myth that prawn cultivation can only be a large scale, capital intensive operation requiring high levels of investment and sophisticated technology was challenged by PRDA’s initiative to introduce simplified forms of prawn farming technologies that can be managed by small farmers. In order to facilitate investment capital required by these small farmers, PRDA was able to establish a guarantee fund with a private commercial bank which extended credit facilities to them. 52 farmers started small-scale prawn farms and within a very short span of time, they were able to move up the social ladder with high incomes generated by their prawn farming activity. Furthermore, these 52 farms generated a large number of direct and indirect employment opportunities in these communities. PRDA’s initiative to introduce simplified technologies and appropriate credit schemes for small scale prawn farming  enterprises  was extensively supported by a number of international development agencies.


Pol-matolu and Banana Fibre Based Handicrafts
  As a source of livelihood for rural women in poor families, PRDA took the initiative of introducing simple technologies for producing marketable handicrafts out of pol-matolu (fibrous sleve of the coconut tree) and banana fibre (extracted from the trunk of the banana plant). Both these technologies were new to the Sri Lankan handicraft sector. Pol-matolu based handicraft technology was acquired from Thailand through a peasant exchange programme , while the banana fibre based handicraft technology was transferred from the State of Kerala in South India. Several women in both the Puttalam and the Gampaha districts learned these technologies, adapted the designs to suit the local conditions and started producing a variety of handicrafts wherever the raw materials were locally available in abundance. As the handcrafted products made from  pol-matolu and banana fibre became popular in both local as well as in overseas markets, a group of women in the Puttalam district with facilitation from PRDA was able to enter the international markets with their pol-matolu handicrafts.  Pol-matolu handicraft production continues to remain a source of livelihood for women in the Puttalam district to this day.
A handicraft producer  

Handicrafts turned out of Pol-matolu

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