By Dr Srimal Fernando Asia Correspondent
Over the last six decades a tremendous amount of official development assistance became the most distinctive aspects of the German Foreign Policy to the countries in the Indian subcontinent. The German Government and other diverse actors and institutions have played a significant role in sustainable development in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. A major part of the German development assistance had been channeled through the globally renowned bilateral Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) formally known as GTZ. With an estimated turnover of EUR 1.9 Billion (2010) GIZ operates in more than 130 countries worldwide. One of the fundamental goals of the GIZ is to facilitate broad based expertise to various resources development programmes. This is to eradicate poverty and to enable the sustainable development of that country.
As a federally-owned and public-benefit enterprise, most of GIZ’s work is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Sri Lanka and the Maldives, GIZ also operates on behalf of other German ministries – including the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for the Environment.
Sri Lanka, situated 31 kilometers off the southern coast of India is a middle income country in South Asia. The relations between Germany and Sri Lanka expanded steadily since diplomatic relations were formalized in 1953. The German assistance to Sri Lanka laid solid foundations several decades ago with the establishment of technical training institute at Katubedda in Moratuwa and the construction of a reservoir at Randenigala by damming the river Mahaweli at Randenigala for hydro electric power generation. GIZ has contributed extensively to number of long and short term projects in Sri Lanka. Today GIZ remains committed to playing a vital role as the GIZ Sri Lanka has 135 local and international staff working tirelessly to promote the principles of partner oriented development programmes. The organization spends nearly 9 million Euros (Estimates 2011) annually in development assistance to the country.
It is increasingly evident that post-conflict peace building is a must after a civil strife. The GIZ projects which link not only to economic and social development but also to enhance building confidence that is fundamental to peace stability of a country. Facilitating Initiatives for Social Integration and Transformation (FLICT), supporting reintegration process of IDP’s in the Vanni Region of Sri Lanka (DETA) and peace building through vocational training of youth in the east of Sri Lanka (PB-VT) and Vocational Training for North (VTN) and Education for social cohesion (ESC) are a vital project that contributes towards developing mutual respect based on equality.
GIZ is also working towards strengthening the quality of national education through vocational and technical training projects in the country. Education for social cohesion (ESC) is the other project that promotes social cohesion and psychosocial counseling in schools of the coastal region following the 2004 tsunami. Training is needed to improve the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to build up leadership qualities and the capacities of children and youth. Education for Social Cohesion (ESC) is an important project initiated by GIZ seven years ago This project motivated 1000 school dropouts from disadvantaged communities resuming education through Open School Programmes. In addition another 5000 students and teachers participated in disaster safety workshops. Plans are under way to build a vocational and technical training institute in a twenty five acre block of land in Killinochchi in Northern Province of the country. The training institute will provide facilities for 600 students to follow courses from education levels four to six. It is intended to foster the development of skills and competencies of the youth in that region.
Vocational education is vital for youth to take more responsibility for development. This regional level initiative is vital for future peace building and reconciliation efforts.
Developing public administration with good governance practices in Sri Lanka is an important component of the GIZ work in the country. Today the results speak for themselves. The Performance Improvement Project (PIP) enhanced the efforts on operational efficiency of public service delivery and ensures a more equitable distribution of resources for the population who are in real need of support. Over 2200 middle and senior managers utilize their skills and knowledge of good governance and Social Integration / social cohesion in over 100 government organizations serving the North and the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. PIP played a special role in training 5000 public servants how to use English as a link language for governance and for effective management.
One of the most important expectations is the promotion of the microfinance sector (PROMIS).An attempt was made to develop the human institutional capacity in microfinance institutions.
The Maldives Islands, situated 500 km from the Southern tip of both Sri Lanka and India comprises 1190 islands. It is another South Asian country that obtains German development assistance. Last year with GIZs support bilateral development corporation between Maldives and Germany were established for the first time. There are plans to develop a sound energy policy development for both inhabited islands and resort islands in the Maldives. An estimated 3 million Euro (2011) will be allocated for the Maldives emission reduction project. In addition a capacity building exercise will target interactions with various levels of personnel and institutions as well as the establishment of effective coordination mechanism aimed at achieving carbon neutrality.
Dr. Wilfried Liehr, the Country Director of GIZ Sri Lanka and the Maldives in an interview: pointed out “Our mandate in Sri Lanka and the Maldives is to work on a basis to support the people to shape their own future and to improve their own living conditions. In this context we are committed now and we will be in the future being a partner of these two countries, spearheading their development cooperation with Germany”.
This reflects the increasing awareness of the key role GIZ plays in contributing to the economic, environmental, social and educational advancement of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) offers an opening to celebrate achievements, review lessons learnt of the past and plan a new course for the future. GIZ looks forward to a continued trustful cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka and the Maldives for sustaining the ongoing development of both countries.