The Plantation Infrastructure Development Ministry is mandated with the responsibility to uplift the economic, social and living conditions of the plantation community which comprises of over 260,000 families in the plantation regions of Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and Southern Provinces.
In order to fulfill the mandate, the ministry considered the importance of formulating a 10-year National Plan of Action for social development of the plantation community and sought the assistance of the UNDP to support the development of 10-year National Plan of Action through its Technical Assistance Programme.
In this regard, a high level meeting was held by Plantation Infrastructure Development Minister P. Thigambaram with UN Resident Representative Subinay Nandi, with the participation of Plantation Infrastructure Development Ministry Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy, UNDP Assistant Country Director R. Ganesharajah, Advisor M. Vamadeven, Director Ajith Ekanayake and other senior officials of the ministry. Based on the discussions a Terms of Reference (TOR) was developed and UNDP has granted technical assistance to develop the National Plan of Action.
Sivagnanasothy informed that the major objectives of the National Plan of Action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the Planation Community areas specially the estate sector. MDGs focuses on reducing poverty and hunger, access to primary education, gender equality, empowerment of women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, environmental sustainability and improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation. While most of the indicators of MDGs at national level are on track, the indicators of the estate sector has been relatively below the national average and in some cases off the track.
Therefore, the objectives of the 10-year National Plan of Action is aimed at identifying priority development interventions to ensure the achievements of the MDGs in the estate sector and thereby reduce the poverty levels, improve the standard of living and enable the plantation community to fully enjoy social and economic rights.
Sivagnanasothy informed that the UNDP with the ministry has appointed a team of experts and consultants to formulate the National Plan of Action which will also have an important component to ensure facilitation and mobilization of resources to implement the programmes and projects that will be identified and set out in the 10-year National Plan of Action. In identifying the National Plan of Action, a wider consultation process will be adopted with a large number of stakeholders including Plantation Infrastructure Development Ministry, Plantation Industries Ministry and other key line ministries, Plantation Human Development Trust, UN agencies including UNDP, UNICEF, UN Habitat and donors such as World Bank, ADB, GIZ and Estate Housing Workers Co-operative Society, Planters’ Association, regional plantation companies, district, divisional, local authorities including workers’ unions and research institutions, academia and civil society organisations.
The National Plan of Action will focus on housing, water supply, pre-schools, child development centres, sports developments, road construction, electricity supply, education, skill development, vocational training, health, religion, cultural and empowerment related programmes and projects.
The comprehensive 10-year National Plan of Action is expected to be finalized by end of July 2015 said Sivagnanasothy. The National Plan of Action will be aligned closely to the government national policies and will help to improve the wellbeing of the plantation community. The UNDP initiative will help to develop a resource mobilization strategy and mechanism to implement the 10-year National Plan of Action.