Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country on the move, but remains scarred by the many consequences of the civil war that lasted until 2009. Despite a number of initiatives, conflict transformation and reconciliation efforts have garnered minimal interest. In the past, the focus was on ethnic disputes between Tamils and Sinhalese, but today religious conflicts play a greater role. This is also underpinned by unequal participation in development between urban and rural areas and between social classes. Helvetas promotes peaceful coexistence and tolerance, and special focus areas of our projects are youth and gender equality.
  • Capital
  • Area
    65,610 km²
  • Poverty rate*
    1% of the population live under the poverty line of $1.90 per day
    Rank: 73 out of 191
  • Population
  • People supported per year
  • Thematic focus
    Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion
    Learning & Innovation
* Source: UN Data

Helvetas has been active in a wide range of rural development and rehabilitation projects in Sri Lanka since 1978. After the tsunami in December 2004, we were involved in emergency relief and reconstruction. Since 2009, Helvetas has worked mainly in the field of governance and peace.

Safe labor migration as a development option 

Although Sri Lanka now ranks among the world’s middle-income countries, poverty is still widespread. Seeking temporary work abroad is the only solution for many men and women. Two million people of Sri Lankan origin live abroad – mostly in the Gulf States, and increasingly in the Far East. Another 250,000 leave Sri Lanka every year. Labor migration is a strategy strongly promoted by the Sri Lanka government.

Helvetas has been involved in supporting safe labor migration for several years. We initially focused on informing migrants and their families about their legal rights, safety, psycho-social issues and effective use of remittances. Since 2016, Helvetas’ role has been to strengthen the capacity of public and civil society actors to ensure safe labor migration. In addition, Helvetas has been training public actors in anti-trafficking measures since early 2018. Current activities focus on strengthening returning migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth for coexistence and peace

The bloody civil war that raged for over 25 years until 2009 left deep wounds in Sri Lankan society. The political situation afterwards has gone through periods of tension, such as the unconstitutional crisis within the government regime in 2018 and the terrorist attacks in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has posed an additional challenge to the country's social fabric as many people's livelihoods have been threatened.

Helvetas' projects are primarily aimed at the young generation and their potential to find new ways for a peaceful and more just society. We pursue different entry points to achieve this. Helvetas works on a personal level with youth to promote understanding of different ethno-religious identities and interests. Journalism students at three universities are trained in the right to information, media governance, conflict-sensitive and gender-responsive communication and public relations. Government and civil society representatives also participate in discussions and learning on how hate speech and violent extremism can be prevented and countered. This project is also implemented in Bangladesh, which allows for a cross-cultural exchange.

Visit the website of Helvetas Sri Lanka.

The country programme in Sri Lanka is co-funded by the SDC programme contribution.

© Helvetas / Ravindra Ranasinghe
© Helvetas / Ravindra Ranasinghe
© Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas
Vellakuddy Nageswary Brunnen well Water Wasser sanitation Hygie © Helvetas
© Helvetas
© Helvetas

Our Projects in Sri Lanka

 If you would like to know more about our work in Sri Lanka, click on each project for details.

Voice, Inclusion & Cohesion

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

Learning & Innovation

Building the capacities of staff and partners to effectively share what they know, to learn together and create effective solutions is crucial to our success.

No. 19/8
High Level Road
Colombo 5
Sri Lanka

Phone:(+94 ) 11 250 45 61
Fax:(+94 ) 11 250 45 60