Local Economic and Social Development (LESD)
Helping the local economy get on its feet with training and advice
After the tsunami on 26 December 2004, significant resources were invested in the reconstruction of the infrastructure. The local economy, however, was still struggling to recover.
There is a shortage of expertise and experience needed for rebuilding SMEs and creating new companies. The local environment, above all administrative and transport support, is hardly fertile soil for a recovery. Social problems such as alcoholism and violence in the family are destroying some of the few fruits of the economic initiative. The war that reignited in 2006 between the rebel movement, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Sri Lankan government army has caused additional harm to the weak local economy in the north and south of the island.
Thus Swisscontact started a project in 2007 which will continue till 2010, which is supporting the recovery of the local economy with vocational training and continuing education, counselling, equipment and loans thereby making a lasting contribution to fighting poverty. SMEs should encounter better conditions than existed before the tsunami.
In ten villages in the districts of Ampara and Batticaloa, Swisscontact is supporting the reconstruction of local SMEs and their markets. In a project developed in collaboration with local partners, the “Local Economic and Social Development East” (LESD-East) project offers vocational training and continuing education courses in the occupations most important for the region as well as management topics. Job placement is provided for the unemployed. Community centres are equipped to serve the population as communication centres and to be able to accommodate new enterprises during the start-up phase. SMEs receive consultation to meet the requirements for micro-loans and other needs. If they are approved, LESD-East will double the amount promised by the credit institute. The project counters social barriers to the economic recovery (above all, alcoholism, violence in the family) with public education events and discrete counselling of individuals who are at-risk and represent a danger to others. Swisscontact is improving the general conditions by supporting the local administrative agencies with consulting, continuing education and materials (above all, computers and telecommunications equipment) and thus helping them better satisfy the needs of the population.
Altogether, in the first project phase a total of 2,500 people are benefiting directly or indirectly from the project. 1,250 people are attending one of the one- to twelve-week courses. 400 small business owners receive business consulting services. 300 SMEs are having their loans doubled (see activities). 1,250 people benefit from social activities. 200 civil service employees participate in courses, 75 civil servants are attending a management course.
Contact Details: More information on the Project can be obtained from:
Walter Horn, Director Asia & Eastern Europe, Swisscontact (firstname.lastname@example.org)