DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY To Make a Difference

BDS categorizes the Economically Active Poor (EAP’s) as people whose basic incomes through their livelihood activities are insufficient  to cover their basic needs. These people are also unable to obtain credit to expand their livelihoods due to their extremely low and variable incomes. This sector includes unskilled laborers who cannot find continuous work, subsistence level farmers lacking irrigable land, persons engaged in off farm self employment and micro enterprises and the recently resettled conflict affected communities, including many war widows.

BDS motivates and supports EAP families to begin new income generation activities or to improve existing ones. Key interventions to enhance incomes include support for home-based enterprises, animal husbandry, small-scale tea cultivation and improving access to irrigation and equipment for vegetable and paddy cultivation. A typical EAP family receives support for three years from BDS until their income is raised to at least Rs. 5,000 a month. Support for these families include the provision of equipment, assets, livestock, working capital to a value of up to Rs.100,000 per family, and training, counseling and links to government agencies. One unique feature of this programme is that support is given even for long term crops such as tea and perennial crop cultivation.

This programme commenced in 2009 and up to end December 2014, over 15,000 individuals have benefitted through grants based assistance for developing and expanding of livelihoods and over 4,500 individuals have benefitted through capacity building trainings to help improve their incomes and better manage their incomes in the Kegalle, Anuradapura, Trincomalee and Nuwara Eliya districts.

 

Change in Approach to EAP Assistance

In 2013, BDS departing from its direct grants based assistance to EAP families, adopted a major shift in approach towards EAP assistance. This twofold approach consisted of identifying deserving beneficiaries through BMI cluster members and reducing the 100% free grants to a 50% interest free loan. A mutually agreed upon repayment period for the 50% loan is decided in consultation with each family. Beneficiaries were also provided with Family Development Books to record their income and expenditure for the family as well as for the business.