It is surprising that even 8 years after the war, the situation remains the same in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. The ICRC’s micro economic initiative for persons affected by the conflict, particularly the women-led household programme is trying to bring lives of directly and indirectly conflict-affected people to as normal as possible. The basic intention of the programme is to empower women who are affected by the war in the East of Sri Lanka. It gives clear indications of the past government’s inability to efficiently conduct post–conflict development projects. Lack of consultation, effectiveness, and need oriented approaches are the results of remaining conditions of the war-affected peoples of Eastern Sri Lanka. However, it is widely felt that the current engagement of the ICRC on women empowerment programme has created other windows of opportunity to the women-headed households to overcome difficulties faced due to the war.
Three-day site visit to the Batticaloa district on 20-22 July 2015 have given an opportunity for journalists to re-read the conditions of those directly and indirectly affected by the war.
Throughout the conversations, the beneficiaries of the programme showed more optimism about their future. The programme also created an opportunity to feel that their abilities could be used more positively rather than merely getting grants from the organization. Because of that, it is clear, ICRC grants are representing the utilization of needs and aspirations of the communities. Most of the peoples engaged with agriculture, livestock activities can remain occupied in day to day activities through these grants.
Although the much more attention is needed for the people who are affected by war, the government-led activities are limited to the general welfare mechanisms. The visit is strongly emphasizing the importance of changing the post-war development and reconciliation initiatives towards a need-based approach. Achieving positive peace is only possible after the realization of the fact that they are not isolated and that their aspirations are addressed in the decision making process. In this regard ICRC’s micro economic initiative plays a vital role in bringing war-affected women back up to where they belong while healing their wounds.
Positive peace could be a reality only once they start thinking that they are also an integral part of society. It is a fact that the war has ended many long years ago. But the consequences still remain the same. Therefore, the Government and reliable NGOs have a bigger responsibility to normalize the lifestyles of the communities affected by the war and to address the consequences that prevail today. An inclusive approach is the only solution that could make positive impact to the lives of the women-headed families.