|LED means more than just economic growth. It is promoting participation and local dialogue, connecting people and their resources for better employment and a higher quality of life for both men and women.|
Socio-economic recovery and reintegration of conflict-affected communities is intimately linked to the capacity of local economies to create and sustain jobs and incomes. With employment being an essential element of the transition to peace and stability, provision of decent work opportunities is a powerful, tested force that pulls people and societies out of crises and sets them on a sustainable development path, giving them a stake in the reconciliation and reconstruction of their communities.
Adopting multi-pronged approaches to rebuild social and governance structures, restore confidence, revive the economy and rehabilitate affected communities is imperative. Key to this process, are partnerships with local authorities and the private sector in developing and implementing Local Economic Development (LED) strategies.
strategy while making use of local resources and competitive advantage in the global context. The underlying objective is creating decent jobs and stimulating economic activity. This approach is being applied by the ILO in lagging districts as well as in conflict and disaster affected areas in Sri Lanka to stimulate short-term and long-term employment generation through the provision of appropriate technological skills and financial support, engaging the private sector, introducing approaches and tools for value chain development, entrepreneurship and enterprise development, linkages with microfinance institutions, skills development, as well as institutional capacity building.
Reintegration of ex-combatants and children affected by warThe ILO has initiated several activities to ensure macro-level policy advocacy on reintegration, and to increase the employability of ex-combatants and conflict-affected communities through community-based skills and enterprise development.
Examples of these initiatives are:
- Providing technical assistance and facilitation to the development of the National Framework Proposal and the National Action Plan (in partnership with UNDP) for Reintegration of Ex-combatants into Civilian Life in Sri Lanka
- Supporting skills development through vocational training and income generation in conflict-affected communities through self-employment of ex-combatants, as well as youth and persons with disabilities
- Contributing towards United Nations Country Team coordination mechanisms on consensus-building and reintegration assistance
The ILO supports the Government in eliminating the worst forms of child labour under its commitment to ILO Convention 182. Special interventions are targeted in conflict affected areas, for persons below the age of 18 years to ensure rights to education, inclusion in vocation training (for older children and youth) and the provision of psycho-social support for reintegration, post-conflict. A key pproach to the interventions was the ‘restoration of a lost childhood’ programme for post-conflict support: empowering children and youth with life skills and recreation and thereby ensuring that former child soldiers and children-at-risk of exploitative employment were better equipped, mentally as well as technically, to get back to school or transit smoothly into the world of work. Further, the ILO endeavours to support children within their familial environment by providing economic empowerment opportunities for their older siblings and parents. This programme successfully accessed over 5,000 children and families. This model is being replicated as ILO continues to work with children in conflict affected areas in partnership with UNICEF and local authorities.
Elements of LED have been widely applied and replicated in enterprise development activities of the ILO, including the Enterprise for Pro-poor Growth (Enter-Growth) Project in the districts of Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Polonnaruwa and Puttalam. The ILO actively pursues LED as a major strategy for creating jobs, improving social cohesion and reducing poverty in all conflict-affected and disaster-stricken areas.
Some selected ILO crisis response interventions
The Local Empowerment through Economic Development (LEED) Project,funded by the Government of Australia, focuses on empowering people at the grass roots with sustainable employment and livelihoods. These interventions are being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations, and are targeted at conflict-affected communities in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. Special attention has been given to the inclusion of vulnerable groups such as . female-headed households, people with disabilities and unemployed youth. The initiatives support local enterprises and growth sectors, establishing hitherto unavailable market linkages with the private sector and cooperatives. They also provide linkages to essential banking and financial services, and facilitate job placements. For purposes of capacity building and coordination, emphasis is placed on support to employers through partnerships with employers’ organisations and local Chambers of Commerce. Capacity building on value chain analysis and development, and other local economic development tools to strengthen locally-driven, participatory development processes are important facets of the initiative.
The Project aims to target 2,400 conflict-affected households with high vulnerability including female-headed households, ex-combatants, unemployed youth, people with disabilities and entrepreneurs in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.
Some key activities of the LEED Project include:
- Support to the Vavuniya North and Karachchi South Multi-Purpose Cooperative
- Society-run medium scale rice mills and small-scale independent rice mills
- Support to rice parboiling micro enterprises that are linked to small independent mills.
- These are specifically designed to address the income needs of female-headed households
- Establishing of agro-mechanical workshops that will provide services to the paddy sector
- Support to small to medium scale food processing enterprises
- Developing market linkages with fruit and vegetable wholesalers
- Strengthening the capacity of locally-driven development processes for coordination and divisional level development planning
- Training of trainers initiatives for people with disabilities and a wage subsidy subsidy scheme for job placements
- Re-establishing and strengthening the local Chamber of Commerce in the Vavuniya and Kilinochchi Districts
The Community-Based Training for Rural Economic Empowerment (CBTREE)methodology is a target group-specific and programme-specific planning tool to encourage income generation through skills and entrepreneurship training and local economic development. It is anchored in community-centered and people-oriented development theories and principles. Since its application in 2006 to a post-tsunami project in Eastern SriLanka, ILO Colombo has incorporated these tools and instruments to various other economic empowerment scenarios and projects. Post-tsunami, the TREE project successfully established 92 enterprises involving 840 direct beneficiaries and 2,500 dependents.
In the immediate aftermath of the conflict the model was replicated to support early recovery and stability of the resettlement process. In addition, the approach was also adopted to reintegrate children/youth with their families, in particular children associated with armed groups. This was implemented through a UNICEF-ILO joint project in the Eastern Province which sought to promote decent work or self-employment through organised vocational training and enterprise development. At its conclusion in June 2011, the Project supported 422 children/families with reintegration assistance. The Project also involved family assessment, focus-group discussions, Generate Your Business (GYB) training, provision of in kind support, mentoring and follow up. The Integrated Programme for Empowering Conflict-Affected Communities in North and East Sri Lanka (a joint programme with UNDP and UNICEF, funded by the Government of Japan) also has the TREE methodology at its core and aims to reach out to more than 500 beneficiaries in three years.