Sri Lanka: Sustainable Livelihoods and Environment
Rapid economic development and relatively high population density puts a great burden on the natural resources of Sri Lanka. Wood, charcoal and fossil fuels currently represent main source of energy for the most of households in Sri Lanka. This has grave consequences on environment such as deforestation, soil degradation and loss of biodiversity as well as contributing to climate change.
People in Need therefore has focused on promoting alternative sources of affordable and clean energy that would be optimal for tropical climate and would suit financial means of the low-income population. Domestic biogas systems offer precisely such source of renewable energy. Moreover, its by product represents a cost-free alternative to chemical fertilizers and pesticides and does not degrade soils.
Promotion of Domestic Biogas Systems
Biogas systems transform decomposing organic waste such as animal excrement into biogas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, which is then easily harnessed as a fuel for gas kitchen stoves. Its by-product – bioslurry – is an effective and potent organic fertilizer. Thanks to biogas systems, families gain reliable sources of clean energy for cooking, replacing the burning of fuel wood. Women are no longer forced to cook in smoke-filled rooms. Thanks to reduced burning of firewood, the utilization of methane from decomposing animal waste and replacement of chemical fertilizers by natural ones, emissions of greenhouse gases as well as deforestation are reduced. For SMEs biogas systems are especially of importance as an effective mean for solid waste disposal.
In 2011, an extensive Feasibility Study to research local conditions, potential and particular modes of development of the market-based biodigester sector in Sri Lanka was conducted with the support of Czech Development Agency and in cooperation with SNV and Practical Action / Janathakshan. The following year, plastic (LDPE – low-density polyethylene) biogas systems were installed in selected households of Batticaloa District on a pilot basis.
In cooperation with the local partner Janathakshan, People in Need currently promotes biogas technology on a larger scale in five provinces. The programme is targeting two main consumers – households and hotels. Development of biogas technology provides three main benefits: it contributes to diversification of energy mix, offers a solution to the problem of local waste management and last but not least improves soil fertility and increases production of homegrown fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, it will have a positive impact on local economy by enhancing technical and entrepreneurial competences of local construction sector.
Renewing sources of livelihood for refugees returning from the North
In Kilinochchi district, People in Need employed local inhabitants in “cash for work” programmes, where they cleaned irrigation channels, repaired roads, schools, bridges and public areas. The works significantly improved the functioning of municipalities and the new jobs provided a livelihood for more than five thousand families. In Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts, PIN helped more than a thousand families to acquire the animals and equipment essential for securing life’s necessities (hens, cows, goats, water pumps, sewing machines, fruit tree seedlings) or small grants which facilitated and accelerated small business start ups and a return to normal life.
Aid recipients also attended professional training on topics such as farming cattle, poultry and goats, business in services, irrigation techniques and fishing. Over the course of the project, field workers were at hand to provide support and advice and to help in communication with the Sri Lankan authorities for instance in acquiring identification documents, in land ownership issues, etc. Lastly, but no less importantly the local population was provided psychosocial counselling in coming to terms with the traumas of war.