Sri Lanka and the World Bank today signed a $70 million loan agreement to improve the quality of life of around one million people living in Northern, North Central, Eastern and Uva Provinces. The new local development project will put local communities at the centre of planning and delivery of essential services such as roads, healthcare and sanitation through closer collaboration with local government authorities.
Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives and Dr R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary in the Ministry of Finance signed the project on behalf of the World Bank and the Government of Sri Lanka respectively.
Sri Lanka has performed well in reducing poverty over the years, with the national poverty rate falling to 4.1 per cent in 2016. However, pockets of poverty prevail, especially in areas in the North and East with weak community institutions, gender vulnerabilities, especially among female-headed households, trauma symptoms and risk behaviour of youth and affected populations.
"The project supports the delivery of services to citizens while ensuring that the activities implemented match their needs," said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka."We are happy to partner with the Government to deliver a project that will build systems to be responsive to the needs of the local population, and particularly the most vulnerable groups."
This project will also pilot the provision of infrastructure services that will promote local economic activities and livelihoods – including roads and drains, markets, water supply, minor irrigation, IT connectivity, and rural electrification.
Project Task Team Leaders, Yarissa Sommer and Sonya Sultan highlighted that "Strong local government authorities which can be responsive to citizens are critical for the development of a country, and the well-being of its citizens. We hope that the Local Development Support Project can make a significant contribution in setting up strong systems for accountable, effective and responsive local government that serve the citizens of Sri Lanka well."
The new Local Development Support Project will be implemented by the Ministry of Internal and Home Affairs and Provincial Councils and Local Government along with the four Provincial Councils participating in the project. The total project cost is $100.65 million, including a $70 million credit from the International Development Association, with a $23.65 million grant from the European Union and $7 million contributions from the Government of Sri Lanka.