Key Takeaways

Though the guns had fallen silent and mines removed from their villages and gardens, many people returned home to destruction and bare structures.

Restoring normalcy to the former conflict zone, post conflict rehabilitation and construction became a priority in the immediate aftermath of the end of the civil conflict.

“The project focused on restoring basic infrastructure to assist with post conflict resettlements.”

Envisaged as a project with far-reaching impact, the Conflict-Affected Region Emergency Project aimed to reduce poverty in conflict-affected areas. The project conformed to the government’s medium-term policy for the north (Wadakkin Wasantham/Northern Spring) and complemented ongoing ADB projects, such as the North East Community Restoration and Development Project, and other projects.

Mainly focusing on the Northern Province, this project also addressed issues in the Eastern Province and some border villages in the North Central Province—all affected by the conflict. It focused on assisting the post conflict resettlement of the estimated 85,000 to 90,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their original areas of residence.

The project covered multiple sectors restoring basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water supplies, and tank irrigations, in addition to strengthening civil administration, and restoring and improving people’s livelihoods.

Restoring Infrastructure in the Former Conflict Zones of Sri Lanka
Restoring Infrastructure in the Former Conflict Zones of Sri Lanka

Some of these areas lacked basic utilities, such as drinking water and electricity, as there had been insufficient investment in the region during the war. Only a few had access to piped water, which varied between 2% and 20% in the different northern districts. The restoration of the Point Pedro Water Supply Scheme in Jaffna and construction of the Eachchalampattu Water Supply Scheme in the East provided 33,000 people with access to clean drinking water.

A total of 228.3 km of national, provincial, and local authority roads were rehabilitated. Moreover, the rehabilitated 705 km of rural access roads significantly improved the livelihoods of formerly isolated farming communities, while reducing travel time and vehicle operating costs.

In addition, the rehabilitated minor, medium, and large tank irrigation schemes and small tank systems enabled over thousands of farm families, predominantly former IDPs, to begin irrigated cultivation again on 19,916 ha in the Northern Province, and parts of the Eastern and North Central provinces.

Partial and total blackouts were common in the north. However, with the construction of the grid station at Chunnakam and a new transmission line from Kilinochchi to Jaffna, a reliable supply of electricity to the north was restored.

Restoring Infrastructure in the Former Conflict Zones of Sri Lanka

The reconstruction of the legal complexes in Chavakachcheri, Kytes, and Mallakam helped create a fully operational governance system that restored the perceived personal and communal security of the war-affected communities and IDPs. This was essential to support the early recovery efforts, and sustain rehabilitation and rebuilding initiatives.

Restoring Infrastructure in the Former Conflict Zones of Sri Lanka

This article was originally published in Sri Lanka-ADB Partnership: 1966-2016. This book traces the history of ADB's projects in Sri Lanka over the past 50 years to strengthen its economy as it moves toward becoming an upper middle-income country.