Kandy, May 15 ó Sri Lankaís plans to better the
lot of over five million poor battered by the tsunami and the
ethnic conflict are the highlight of a ground-breaking study to
be released this week at the first-ever aid forum to be hosted
Persistent problems dogging the plantation
sector, the embattled regions of the north and east and other
rural areas are set against a backdrop of steady progress in
lowering infant and maternal mortality and achieving significant
education goals for children.
"There are about five million people living in
poverty in Sri Lanka, perhaps more," says the report, noting
that if statistics from districts affected by the decades-long
separatist war had been available, poverty figures would be much
The Millennium Development Goals Report
spotlights the disparity in development and the growing poverty
in inland rural areas and the coastal belt affected by the 26
December 2004 sea surges.
Despite the slow pace of development on some
fronts, the island boasts of high literacy rates with some 85
percent of youngsters between 6 and 10 years enrolled in school
and high numbers of both girls and boys having access to free
primary and secondary education.
The analysis, the first of its kind to be
drafted by the government under the co-ordination of the
National Council for Economic Development, assesses the United
Nationsí target of halving poverty in Sri Lanka by the year 2015
and will be the yardstick by which the country can measure the
success of long and short-term strategies.
The wide-ranging survey, supported by the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP), covers eight broad areas
of development goals and is a ready reference point for data on
the state of the economy, aid flows, health and education
indicators, water, sanitation and the environment and
"Sri Lanka has long been at the forefront of
human development among developing countries. Access to health
and education is widespread and the results have been
impressive," said Miguel Bermeo, the UNDPís resident
representative in Sri Lanka. "But the tsunami disaster and the
two-decade internal conflict have raised tremendous challenges."
Fast-track projects funded by foreign aid are
expected to alleviate the impact of the tsunami on the thousands
of people who were affected. The governmentís focus is trained
on developing housing, roads, railways and other infrastructure
and on generating job opportunities for them.
Among the issues raised in the report are the
fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, the environment, the
participation of women in government and public life and
regional and international trade.
The report is to be presented at the two-day Sri
Lanka Development Forum conclave beginning Monday in Kandy where
over 100 representatives of donor nations and agencies are set
to gather. (UNDP)