Sri Lanka is slated to witness a boost in its rural development agenda with the European Union (EU) pledging support by way of grant and technical assistance worth Euro 43.7 million.
The exercise that will be implemented under the Asia Regional Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (ARMIP) 2014 – 2020 will be extended to the nation under two development and one technical assistance project.
According to the Finance Ministry, the EU has agreed to provide Euro 38 million (Rs.5,857 million) for the implementation of the programmes: ‘Support to Integrated Rural Development in the Most Vulnerable Districts of the Central and Uva Provinces in Sri Lanka’ (Euro 30 million) and ‘Trade-Related Assistance in Sri Lanka’ (Euro 8 million). The technical assistance worth Euro 5.7 million will be provided to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB).
The Rural Development Programme in the Central and Uva Provinces in particular hopes to improve livelihoods, household income levels, health and nutrition and strengthen socio-economic service delivery by local authorities, community organisations and private institutions. The objectives would be achieved by improving rural infrastructure, local business development, job creation and by invigorating the business environment.
The Trade-Related Assistance Programme, which will also look at increasing the trade competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in regional and the EU market, will design and implement a coherent strategy for export competitiveness that includes policies and regulatory reforms.
Meanwhile, the technical assistance to the NWSDB, to be implemented by Agence Francaise de Developpement (French Development Agency - AFD), is said to complement the Sanitation and Hygiene Initiative for Towns Project (SHIFT), which aims to develop collective sewerage system and sanitation solutions in Sri Lanka. The programme will analyse the NWSDB requirements and capacity to expand into the wastewater sector.
The ARMIP is the EU’s Regional Multi-Annual Indicative Programme for Asia, which covers 19 countries in South and Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka. Grant assistance worth of Euro 889.5 million has been allocated during the 2014 – 2020 period for the entire Asian region to support regional integration as aid to uprooted people and to promote a green economy.