U.S. Government program to strengthen local authorities in the East
[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 April 2009, 11:53 GMT]
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding a two-year program called Supporting Regional Governance (SuRG) to strengthen local governance in conflict-affected areas of the East. Participating local authorities from the Eastern Province recently signed a memorandum of understanding with SuRG to launch the partnership.
Press statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo follows:U.S. Government program strengthens local authorities in the East
Susan Ward, Head of the SuRG Program, presents the official agreement to Mr. S. Soundararajah, Chairman of the Verugal PS. USAID funding will provide training and technical assistance to 25 local authorities in the East over the next two years.
April 30, 2009 - Colombo: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is funding a two-year program called Supporting Regional Governance (SuRG) to strengthen local governance in conflict-affected areas of the East. Participating local authorities from the Eastern Province recently signed a memorandum of understanding with SuRG to launch the partnership.
USAID, the development agency of the U.S. Government, started the SuRG program to help local authorities in the East administer their activities more effectively and respond to the needs of their communities. In 2009, SuRG will work with 11 local authorities to increase public participation in local decision making, improve transparency in local government, and strengthen the relationships between different levels of government and elected officials. SuRG will expand the program in 2010 and work with an additional 14 local authorities from Eastern Province and Polonnaruwa District.
“USAID is pleased that our efforts will help 25 local authorities in the East develop their administrative skills and strengthen their operations,” stated Rebecca Cohn, USAID Mission Director. “By providing technical assistance and training in important fields such as planning, revenue management, and budgeting, we hope that local authorities will not only manage their operations more effectively, but will encourage their citizens to participate more fully in decision-making. Citizen participation is an important cornerstone of democracy, and we want to help our local authority partners work cooperatively with their communities,” she continued.
SuRG will provide training and technical assistance to Pradeshiya Sabha and Urban Council chairmen and elected officials, along with administrative staff. This program has received the support of the Ministry of Local Government and Provincial Councils and the Eastern Provincial Council Department of Local Government and its representatives, the Commissioner for Local Government Eastern Province and the District Assistant Commissioners of Local Government. SuRG will also train community groups on the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and the ways citizens can engage with officials to address community needs.
“I am very pleased that SuRG is working with the local authorities of the Eastern Province,” stated Mr. M. Dhayaparan, Commissioner of Local Government Eastern Province. “Communities are facing many difficult challenges right now, as they try to rebuild after many years of conflict. SuRG is giving local elected officials and administrative staff important new skills that will help them to do their jobs more effectively. As elected and local officials, the local authorities are responsible to the citizens in their area, and want to do their very best to help the community prosper and succeed,” he continued.
The 11 participating partners for 2009 are 10 Pradeshiya Sabhas (PS) and 1 Urban Council (UC) from the Eastern Province:
- Trincomalee – Thambalagamuwa PS, Muthur PS, Verugal PS, Seruwila PS
- Batticaloa – Eravur Town PS, Manmunai West PS, Manmunai South-West PS, Porativupattu PS
- Ampara - Ampara UC, Alaiyadivembu PS, Ninthavur PS
The American people, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, have provided development and humanitarian assistance in developing countries worldwide for nearly 50 years. Since 1956, USAID/Sri Lanka has invested nearly $2 billion to benefit all the people of Sri Lanka.