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Senate Estimates: Australian Agency for International Development (Sri Lanka)

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 6 Jun 2013

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

Estimates HearingsĀ 6 June 2013

Australian Agency for International Development

See full transcript here

Senator RHIANNON: I would like to move on to Sri Lanka. In December last year the foreign minister committed $45 million to build or rebuild poor and rural communities in Sri Lanka. Are any of the construction works from this money occurring in northern areas such as Jaffna said to be compulsorily acquired by the Rajapaksa regime?

Mr Dawson : The announcement that Senator Bob Carr made related to the Australian Community Rehabilitation program. That is a program which has a range of activities associated with it which is implemented through a range of partners including UN organisations and non-government organisations. A lot of the work is around working with small businesses and disadvantaged groups to create opportunities for economic activity and for livelihood support, so there is a lot of work around value chain creation for small businesses, supporting communities to advocate for equitable distribution of resources from government and social cohesion programs et cetera.

For example, some of the things being done under that program relate to small-scale microfinance training work to establish potential export industries around papaya harvesting for rural women. Two hundred women are being employed in a factory processing crab meat for export.

Senator RHIANNON: The question was specifically about areas where there had been compulsory acquisition. Is any of that money going to construction of works in those areas?

Mr Dawson : I was just coming to that, Senator. The program has some local infrastructure work but it is very small scale and there has been certainly no compulsory acquisition of land underneath that program.

Senator RHIANNON: Is any of the money intended to be spent in traditional Tamil areas or Sinhalese areas only?

Mr Dawson : The program relates to poor areas. The majority of the project is located in conflict affected communities in the north and eastern provinces and in the multi-ethnic central province. So, by the nature of the geographic location, many of the communities will be Tamil majority communities.

Senator RHIANNON: Was this money provided to the Sri Lankan government to build the houses, run the campaigns, or is AusAID actively involved in the construction and the spending of money?

Mr Dawson : As I explained, the funding is not going to the Sri Lankan government; the funding is going through a number of international organisations and non-government organisationsā€”for example, the United Nations Development Program, Oxfam, World Vision, the Asia Foundation.

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