Today: Sunday April 19, 2015


The Main Poverty Alleviation Programme in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka being a beautiful island known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean is one of the smallest of the South Asian Nations. As a developing country, it also faces the problems of poverty. It is estimated that around 15.2% of the population being poor but, around 45% out of total families are being covered under the safety net programmes funded by the government of Sri Lanka in terms of income transfer (food and income subsidy), nutrition package for pregnant and lactating mothers and milk feeding subsidy for children between two and five. Therefore, the main responsibility of the government of Sri Lanka is to eradicate poverty from our motherland. Percentage of approximately four to five of the national budget is being allocated annually to provide safety net assistance to the poor. 

Compared to other countries in the developing world, Sri Lanka has higher rate of literacy, higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality ratios. However the country is currently confronted with serious socio-economic problems with rising unemployment and high incidence of poverty. 

“Samurdhi” is the National Programme introduced by the Government in 1994 to alleviate poverty. The objective of this program is to find a solution to poverty. It is not an easy task, but through the Samurdhi Program priority has been given to activities such as development of rural infrastructure facilities, improving health and nutritional conditions among rural community and create opportunities. 

The Ministry of Samurdhi, Youth Affairs and Sports was established in 1994 to launch the above Programme. In 2004 , the Ministry’s name was changed to Ministry of Samurdhi & Poverty Alleviation and again it was converted as the division of Samurdhi under the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development. 

Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka

Samurdhi Authority implements many programmes throughout the country for public poverty reduction. Diversified programmes reach individuals, families and groups, both in village and in urban environments. Loan schemes are implemented for micro enterprises initiated by individuals or groups of poor in the community. Participatory development efforts are one of the more favoured approaches of Samurdhi Authority. 

Samurdhi Authority of Sri Lanka has a staff of over 25,000 persons in about 36 job categories. Out of these personnel Samurdhi Development Officers comprise of about 23,000 persons while Samurdhi Managers are about 2000. Apart from about 500 staff of various job categories who are attached to the Head Office of the Authority in Colombo, all other officers are serving in different parts of the country. 

Some of the divisions of Samurdhi Authority illustrate the nature of development activities undertaken by it. For example, Rural Development division, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Marketing Development, Banking Finance, Social Development, Media division, Legal and Investigation etc. illustrate the type of programmes being launched by Samurdhi Authority. 

Its programmes operate at all levels of the administrative system like Grama Niladhari level, zonal level, divisional level and national level. There is a wide network of administrative institutions at different levels implementing Samurdhi programmes.  


Contributing to total National Development by utilising the participatory development methodology to promote the untapped capabilities and the organisational and institutional abilities of low income earners and thereby empower them productively and efficiently in a pro poor and sustainable manner; and redeem them from poverty and also develop the areas where they live. 

Village Development Programme

There are 5,633 projects going on successfully at a cost of Rs 1,660 million to develop infrastructure facilities in of 3,060 Samurdhi Grama Niladhari Divisions, with active community participation. Following are the details of the projects completed. 

Livelihood Development Programme

Livelihood Development Programme was implemented to uplift the economy of low income families towards sustainable development, in 2010.  Under this programme, projects were launched covering 3,060 Gama Neguma GN divisions and other GN divisions, combining agricultural development, industry, animal husbandry and fisheries, marketing and services sectors.  The total cost of the programme is Rs 797.04 million. 

Spiritual and social development programmes

Physical progress as at September 30, 2010

Programme Approved projects Completed projects
Agriculture 38,495 12,530
Fisheries andAnimal Husbandry  12,365 3,459
Industries 15,534 4,393
Marketing 11,338 4,064
Total 77,732 24,446

Spurred by the SAARC Convention on poverty elimination and realising the concept of  a Charming Village spelt out in the Mahinda Chintana, several spiritual and social development programmes took effect.  Improving social and spiritual values through Mathata Thitha- a programme designed to combat drug menace, child protection, anti-suicide initiatives, youth groups, child societies, voluntary groups, and programmes launched parallel to world days dedicated to women, elders, children, literacy and poverty alleviation, was part of the programme. 

Welfare programmes for families of prison inmates, disable persons and people working abroad and housing programmes like ‘Diriya Piyasa’ were successful.

No. of persons emancipated from the liquor habit   18,656  
No. of persons quit smoking 17,991
No. of shops that stopped sale of cigarettes 5,651
Diriya Piyasa and Houses for War heroes 2,581

Samurdhi Banking Societies Programme

Microfinancing will be carried out through the Samurdhi Banking Association Programmes.  With the full State patronage, the Samurdhii Banking Association Programme branched out in rural interior villages have facilitated village people to enhance their savings by providing loans. 

1. Extension of Samudhi Banking Union

No. of districts covered   22(Except for Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Mannar)  
No of Divisional Secratariat Divisions where  Samurdhi Societies have been established 315
No. of established and activebanking societies 1042

2. Collection of deposits

Description No. of Accounts Total amount (Rs Mn)
Membership share 2,636,186 5,336
Child (Sisuraka andKekulu  1,112,521 1,372
Joint 388,566 4,412
Other Savings(Member, Non-member, Diriya Maatha)  3,706,181 10,544
Total Rs 13,99,802 million 41,131
No.of Accounts            Rs 41,132 million    

3. Disbursement of loans

Number of loans given 3,907,686
Value of total project loans (Rs. Mn) given 54.249
Number of outstanding loans 708,965
Value of outstanding loans (Rs Mn) 11,226
    The staff was granted 21,416 loans to the total value of Rs 1,692.7 million during 2010.The number of Samurdhi Banking Associations  and main societies infrastructure development programmes is 52 and the cost is Rs 167.2 million.

Overall Financial Progress as at October 31,2010 (Rs. Mn)

Development sector Funds Financial Progress
Rural development 1667.8 1,599.433
Livelihood development 820 618,624
Main Societies and Banking Finance 274 183.061
Spiritual Development 427 404.155
Other 71,20 27.436
Total 3,260 2,832.706

Future strategy

Developing infrastructure facilities that make a direct impact on rural and urban livelihood development 

Sustainable infrastructure development that is essential for income generation of people, economic development and basic human needs. 

Directing the rural masses empowered by livelihood development programmes to the national development 

Creating a healthy and cultured society free of drugs, liquor and smoking and rich of values. 

Providing a shelter for homeless low income people 

Offering services to all Sri Lankans by opening Samurdhi Banks  throughout the island and contributing to the national development 

Budget Estimate- 2011-2013 (Rs. Mn)

Sector 2011 2012 2013
Rural development 1620 1620 1800
Livelihood development 840 840 900
Main Association and Banking Finance 270 270 270
Spiritual and Social Development 450 450 450
Other 80 80 80
Total 3,260 3,260 3,200


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