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Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan Kids

Understanding the dynamics of peace and conflict in the country, Search for Common Ground Sri Lanka works to promote inclusion, diversity and collaborative action for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. Our work is planned around four main strategic objectives:

  • Promote cooperative engagement across traditional dividing lines for an inclusive Sri Lankan identity

  • Promote participation and inclusion of marginalized communities for sustainable and equitable development

  • Develop capacities of at-risk groups to prevent violent conflict

  • Build confidence of marginalized groups to access resources and representation

SFCG Sri Lanka focuses on the three broad areas of Youth, Women and Community Media: strengthening youth to be active citizens in their respective communities and placing women at the centre stage of cultivating peace and creating dialogue across groups for better and positive development in the country (with an emphasis on the North of the country) . SFCG strives to establish strong working relationships with local officials, community leaders, teachers and schools, religious leaders, and community-based organisations, seeking to expand knowledge, change attitudes, and advance the practice of peace and nonviolence.

Project Update

Eastern Voices: Building the Capacity of Trincomalee Media Actors to be Human Rights Defenders

Eastern Voices is a project that aimed to increase the capacity of a group of journalists in Trincomalee district of Eastern Sri Lanka enabling them to constructively address emergent issues hindering peace and reconciliation in their district. The project assisted 25 journalists and university students from Trincomalee campus through the delivery of skills, knowledge and attitudes focused capacity building and mentoring. This program was conceptualized on the understanding that helping to establish an independent, vibrant media in Sri Lanka has become a top priority of the post-war peace building agenda. The project set out not only to address the lack of journalism and reporting skills among the participating journalists, but also aimed to develop their knowledge in reporting practices that promoted stable and sustainable peace in their subtexts.

To read more about the Eastern Voices project, click here...

Giving Voice to the Voiceless in Northern Sri Lanka

"For the first time in our lives, we have the opportunity to talk about our issues and share our hopes with the outside world, thru the use of the media We believe this is an opportunity to draw the attention of relevant stakeholders to our issues," said Wimalasiri, from Kokweliya village, who participated in a community dialogue conducted by SFCG. This was part of a larger dialogue project currently underway in six communities northern Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) with funding by the Japanese Embassy.

Wimalasiri's village is transitioning from war to peace. Kokweliya is a village that is home to over 100 Sinhala and Tamil families that have borne the brunt of the country's three decades of armed conflict that ended in 2009. Violent conflict wrought havoc and devastation in this isolated village, and disrupted the peaceful co-existence between the two ethnic communities, causing both communities to flee their homes to live in different parts of the country. Families have slowly started to make their way back home.

The returning villagers are facing a myriad of issues, such as lack of permanent housing and community infrastructure, poor quality of community water sources and the absence of an alternative water supply. A variety of initiatives that assist returnee families exist, but have not yet resulted in significant improvements.

SFCG feels it is important to create a safe space and opportunities for resettled communities to establish effective, direct linkages with the local authority so that they can communicate with decision makers and service providers. We aim to empower local communities to utilize participatory approaches to address their development issues through solutions-oriented dialogue, that includes ex-combatants, on sensitive issues such as gentrification, political participation, identity and post-war reconciliation, resettlement, education, infrastructure, and economic development.

Promoting Civic Participation in the Hill Country

SFCG staff and partners mapping out key community issues

A multi-ethnic country, Sri Lanka is challenged by the politics of identity. Developing a collective identity has been a continuous struggle for Sri Lankan society. Its diverse communities maintain strong identities, cultures and beliefs. To transform such dynamics, Sri Lanka needs proactive leadership, and the participation of an empowered civil society. Marginalized groups need to be empowered to take responsibility to work for positive change and to advocate for improved quality of life for their populous.

SFCG's innovative approach involves two complementary approaches: behavior change communication and cooperative actions.

Read more about Civic Participation in the Hill Country...

Participatory and Inclusive Development

Media Training for Youth Development Dialogue project

The engagement of communities with various identities, experiences and perspectives is crucial for sustainable development in a pluralistic and diverse society. Post-2009 Sri Lanka, after three decades of war, is striving to develop the conflict-affected provinces, placing importance on resettlement, rebuilding, infrastructure development and reconciliation. Despite numerous efforts by the government, the conflict-affected communities have grievances regarding lack of local participation in development efforts, resettlement related issues and demographic changes in the North and the East Provinces.

Considering the current dynamics and development in these geographical areas, SFCG Sri Lanka is working to change the current conflict-prone dynamics and bring about positive social transformation promoting participation and inclusivity.

Read more about Participatory and Inclusive Development...

Women, Peace & Security

Media Training for Youth Development Dialogue project

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 calls for incorporating a gender perspective in peace agreements, protecting women and girls from gender-based violence, and including women in the decision-making level of peace processes primarily to ensure protection and full participation of women and girls in the process. Thus, it is crucial to consider women as key players in the transition to peace. SFCG Sri Lanka places a strategic priority women's issues, considering them an at-risk group. . We believe working for the protection, empowerment, inclusion and advancement of women in post-conflict reconstruction processes and socio-political developments is essential to achieving long-term reconciliation and sustainable peace to complement the increased stability in the regions affected by the conflict.

Read more about Women, Peace & Security...