'Eighty percent under poverty line in NEP'

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 June 2001, 02:44 GMT]
"Eighty percent of the population in the North and east live under the poverty line. The paddy growing area in northeast province (NEP) has declined by 22 % since 1994 due to low investment, low institutional capacities and poor transport. Ninety percent of the population in Trincomalee depends on state support such as food stamps and dry rations. Ninety percent of Trincomaleeís population has been displaced since 1983. Five percent of the districtís population still remains displaced. About 250,000 children are among the displaced. They suffer due to loss of parents, fear and trauma. They were witnesses of violence", said Dr (Mrs) Ines Reinhard, who worked as a nutritionist with Integrated Food Security Programme (IFSP) in Trincomalee since January 1999 when she made her farewell lecture Friday evening at the Conference Hall of the Trincomalee District Secretariat.

She shared her experience in implementing the IFSP in the Trincomalee district. Mr. Jurgen Elias, Ambassador, Federal Republic of Germany was also present.

Dr. Ines Reinhard spoke on the topic 'Voiceless past-Hopeful future'.

She said, "the Contribution of the Northeastern province to the GDP decreased from 15 % in 1980 to 5% in 1997. The NEP saw a negative growth rate of 6% during 1990's while national economy grew 5.5% per annum."

Referring to health and education in the NEP, Dr. Reinhard, said that there is a lack of staff (doctors-32%, specialists-80%, midwives- 54%), restrictions on drugs and equipment and poor preventive health care. She said that there is low school attendance, high dropout rates and that 20% of positions for teachers is vacant.

"Village infrastructure in the Trincomalee district is largely destroyed. There is a lack of government services, especially in areas that are not under the control of the Sri Lankan security forces. Production in agriculture and fisheries has dropped. Household income in the northeastern province has decreased by 50% since 1982.

"Malnutrition is significantly higher in the northeast province than the national average.

"Malnutrition is a poverty indicator. Malnutrition at the national level is 10 %.

But in the Trincomalee district it is 27%. In areas that are not under the control of the Sri Lanka army it is 50%. And fifty percent of women in such areas suffer from malnutrition. 36% of children suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. 65 % of mothers and 45% of children under 5 suffer from iron deficiency".

"Rehabilitated infrastructure is also destroyed. More people are displaced"

"IFSP can contribute significantly to food security and poverty alleviation in Trincomalee district but IFSP's contribution to conflict mitigation is limited. Because development aid cannot replace political solutions" Dr. Reinhard

Dr. Ines Reinhard is to take up her new appointment at the head office of the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ), a non-governmental organization supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, from July 2001.


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