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With a financial envelope of Euro 14 million (approx. Rs. 2.2 billion/ US$15million), more than 300, 000 people are expected to benefit from the support provided by the European Union to build houses and improve community infrastructure for internally displaced people and returnees.

The activities will be implemented from 2016-2018 in nine
selected divisions of the Killinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa districts by Habitat for Humanity. This initiative dovetails on the earlier housing programmes for which the European Union contributed with €50 million in the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya and Batticaloa.

Speaking during the signing of the project, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, David Daly said, “The project contributes to a sustainable solution for returnee families with the specific objective of improving the living conditions and social cohesion of displaced people, returnees and their host communities. This is not just an infrastructure project, but an initiative that will contribute to livelihood support through skills development and loan facilities to help people build towards a more hopeful future”.

The initiative aims to construct houses for almost 16 000 conflict-affected persons, in cooperation with World Vision Lanka. To minimise debt, vulnerable families will receive supplements for loan repayments. In addition, more than 60 000 people in 60 villages will be supported through financial, disaster preparedness and construction trainings.

To provide more holistic development support and increase livelihood opportunities, Habitat for Humanity will provide vocational and skills development training to households, persons active in the trade sector and youth in construction related services. This project will also follow a “homeowner driven process” of construction, whereby the selected families will contribute through their own labour towards the reconstruction efforts. The project also provides support to the domestic economy by sourcing all building material locally. The project also aims to safeguard women’s rights by ensuring their participation in community consultation meetings and decision making process.

“At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that housing is not a product but a process. It is not enough to build houses, we need to turn them into homes and empower homeowners to transition from poverty and dependency to independence and self-sufficiency,” says Greg Foster, Area Vice President for Habitat for Humanity Europe, Middle East and Africa. “This is exactly what we hope to do for the war affected communities in Sri Lanka. We want to show them a way out of poverty and unlock their entrepreneurship.”