If you are reading this on New Year’s day, Happy 2015! Thank you for being such a dedicated reader of my blog.
I had a nice day today. It’s quite sad, but I had forgotten how quickly a work day goes by when you are stimulated and involved in what you do. Basically, all these agencies have submitted their development plans and proposals on a template and we went through some of them today doing things like checking they had understood the difference between a vision, mission and strategy and rewriting it if they didn’t. I know you will say it’s all bollocks and it is, but this is familiar territory to local authorities back home so it was easy for me. Official documents must be in English and although their second language is English and it’s very good, it’s a sort of Indian English and could be much clearer and simpler. If I do nothing else, but edit, it will be helpful. Then some of them struggled with the funding lingo – key performance indicators etc and some weird technology we were not sure of like referring to prawns coming from seeds. I’m sure they don’t come from seeds. (In fact I found out later they do!) Anyway, the great thing is that later in the week I start to go on field visits to check amendments with them so I get to see cage farms and irrigation tanks and rice mills and proposed tourist beaches. The building work I saw yesterday was a hotel by the way.
I have to stop myself from getting too excited about it in case it doesn’t materialise.
I got my lunchtime ‘short eats’ from a Muslim guy by the mosque. I am practising my Tamil. The only failure of the day was that long wrap round skirts for a country where showing legs is highly sexual is not appropriate on bikes. It just split apart way up my thighs so I had to either wobble with one hand holding my skirt or have them cheering at me in a ribald but not huffy way. I will just have to pin them in future.
Sport does not have the profile and status in Sri Lanka that it enjoys in other countries. It is not seen as having a high priority within the government, therefore parents do not encourage their children in sports as it is not seen to lead to a profitable career path.
Sports facilities are limited. However, the Weber stadium is currently in the process of being built and individuals are going out and winning medals against all odds.
There is a sports team of 5 at the District Secretariat that focus on badminton, coaching kabbadi and competitive games at Divisional and District level, but they are limited by a small budget and a low profile amongst partners.
Issues, Challenges and Opportunities
Apart from the obvious health benefits, sport as a recreational pastime can be enjoyed at relatively low cost, it builds team spirit and is an important outlet for the type of aggression built up when life throws up too many disappointments and not enough opportunities. This is particularly relevant in Batticaloa District and pertinent to the rural areas where sport would be a preferable outlet to the documented cases of alcoholism and domestic violence. This could be addressed with a good outreach team going to a different area each afternoon.
Professionals working in the area also talk about a ‘mind set’ amongst the poor that refuses to change. Sport releases many positive endorphins that could help individuals begin to engage with life from a different perspective.
Some 5 year education plans do include the development of sporting activities in schools.
Development Plan Focus
The sports team need to be linked to schools and NGOs, such as ESCO who run sports activities, going out to rural areas to make introductions and also to share transport.
New EU funding is looking at Peace Education within a strategy for social cohesion. The National Youth Service Council (NYSC), UNICEF and the UNDP are playing a key role and the district team need to make links with these organisations to access small pots of funding for development activities.
Batticaloa District Development Plan DRAFT 2013