World Bank Approves $70 Million to Improve Local Services in Rural Sri Lanka

The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $70 million credit to improve the quality of life of around one million people living in Northern, North Central, Eastern and Uva Provinces in Sri Lanka. The new local development project will put local communities at the center of planning and delivery of essential services such as roads, healthcare and sanitation through closer collaboration with local government authorities. Sri Lanka has performed well in poverty reduction over the years with a national poverty rate of 4.1% in 2016. However, pockets of poverty prevail. A recent World Bank study of socio-economic conditions in the North and East found many factors challenging development in these areas including weak community institutions, gender vulnerabilities, especially among female headed households, trauma symptoms and risk behavior of youth and affected populations. “Creating responsive systems and the space for citizens’ voice is at the heart of this project, which aims at matching people’s needs with local service delivery solutions” 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. Yarissa Sommer and Sonya Sultan, Project Task Team Leaders, 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 million, including a $70 million credit from the International Development Association, with a $23.65 million grant from the European Union and $7 million contribution from the Government of Sri Lanka.

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