The Sri Lankan Experience - 1
03 / 1994
EMPOWERING THE POOR - THEY WILL BUILD THEIR OWN WORLD
IRED’s approach to development is new and innovative. It believes that true and genuine development of the poor can take place only by releasing their inventive genius, innovative talents and creativity which has been suppressed for hundreds of years by oppressive social, economic and political structures which have consistently worked against them.
Poverty is calculated in access to basic needs - food, shelter, infant mortality rates, health care, water, sanitation and literacy. These are quantifiable and help agencies assist natrions and regions, not just families and communities.
Development interventions provide improved facilities like wells, piped water, schools, health centres and antenatal programmes to help the poor. Capital injected for infrastructure is a one off process and running costs must be found internally.
Thus small enterprise development can either be maintained providing income and employment by looking after the facilities provided like managing water resources or running the health care centres.
Or else the poor can be supported in establishing small enterprises so that their income hence their purchasing power is increased and facilities bought in the open market.
However, it is IRED’s own attitude that the poor are potentially rich in their latent creativity in technical innovation, and that their organisational initiative can be drawn out to give them mental strength and courage to build their own world. Through peasant exchange programmes IRED enables the poor of Sri Lanka to meet the poor in other countries, exchange experiences with them, learn to identify new raw materials and to innovate new products with them. They see for themselves how other people use different techniques and strategies, different ways of organising themselves and overcome the same problems that are shared by the poor throughout the developing world.
Stimulating the poor by getting poor people from another country to show them that what they perceived to be useless waste materials are in fact valuable raw materials that can be transformed into useful commercial products through the application of simple technologies that the poor can afford has been the objective of numerous peasant exchange programmes that IRED has organised in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
In Sri Lanka IRED introduced two innovative crafts - using fibre from the trunk of the banana tree and pol matolu a fibrous wrapper round the young branch of a coconut tree. By a perocess of transferred technology, both crafts were easily understood by Sri Lanka peasant women which enabled them, after a 2 week training and through trial and error, to make a range of high quality exportable products, and help provide them with a regular income. This development is possible only with the intervention of a support agency which can share the risk with potential beneficiaries during the period of growth.
FERNANDO, Sunimal, DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT SERVICES OF THE IRED PARTNERS IN ASIA, Support Services for Development (pvt)ltd. Sri Lanka, 1991/06
IRED Asie (Development Support Service) - 562/3 Nawala Road - Rajagiriya - Sri Lanka Tel : 94 1 695 481 - Fax : 94 1 - 688 368