DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY To Make a Difference

Sri Lanka’s tea estate community provides a major contribution to the economy of the country, with fifteen percent of foreign income accrued from the plantation sector. The plantation sector directly employs 31,000 people and is home to nearly 1 million (nearly 5% of Sri Lanka’s population). However, the community has not been able to enjoy the due benefits of the trade. The majority of plantation workers are descendants of waves of workers brought from South India by the British in the late 19th century. These plantation workers were provided accommodation in 10" by 10" small rooms built in one block, had common toilets and majority had no access to clean water. They were totally dependent on the plantation companies for their basic needs.

However, after management of the plantations were  handed over to local plantation management companies and establishment of the Plantation Housing and Welfare Trust, conditions improved in the estate's with around 30% of people gaining access to housing, and around 50% to clean water and individual toilets.

However, poverty levels in the plantation sector have been persistently higher than the national average. The plantation sector still makes up 8.9% of the population living below the poverty line and multi dimensional poverty is even higher in the estate sector in comparison to rural and urban sectors.

Hence, both state and non state actors have a duty to assist these workers and support Sri Lanka’s plantation sector and enable these workers to satisfy their basic needs such as housing, sanitation and water. Berendina has been assisting with this process for the last 10 years commencing since 2004 by providing a number of development solutions through the Berendina Development Services (BDS) and Berendina Micro Finance Institute (BMI) in consultation with respective plantation management companies.

 

Results

Beneficiaries in the estates in which Berendina operates, have benefited in the form of access to safe drinking water, health, access to credit, capacity building, new livelihood options and improved infrastructure. Most importantly plantation managers and workers have been able find solutions to persistent long term problems in the sector.  By end 2013, the number of estates where Berendina was active increased up to 59. All work is done in partnership with the plantation management companies and credit work though the plantation co-operatives.

 

Work done by BDS in Plantations in a Nutshell (2007 to 2012)

No Intervention Outreach
1 Provision of Scholarships for bright students 395
2 Repairing and construction of Houses for extreme poor 92
3 Construction of toilets 857
4 Assistance for cataract operations 737
5 Provision of spectacles 2143
6 Provision of food ration for malnourished mothers 2274
7 Provision of food ration for malnourished children 378
8 Water projects completed in partnership with estate companies (tap for each house) 27
9 Families benefited from water projects 4680
10 Community projects in estates(roads, bridges, buildings) 156
11 Income generation projects for non workers 284
12 Number of child cots given to estate crèches 835
13 Number of Crèches given child cots (in 60 estates) 125
14 Number of Elders participated for sport meets 5961
15 Elders sport meet 46
16 Number of Elders participated for picnics 4862
17 Elders trips to Katragama etc 51
18 Provision of school bags and learning materials for plantation students(annually) 8070
19 Number of medical clinics conducted in estates 1696
20 Total participants for estate medical clinics(no longer done) 33187
21 Number of educated plantation youth provided employment 1500

 

Plantation Companies Berendina works with

Berendina has partnered with Watawala, Kelenivalley, Kegalle, Maskeliya, Bogawanthalawa, Kahawatta, Horana, Agarapathana, Mathurata and Kotagala as well as 3 privately owned plantation companies to work in 57 estates by 2012.

 

Budget for Plantation Sector

Year Budget Number of estates working
2009 Rs.23 million 20
2010 Rs.29 million 22
2011 Rs.28 million 28
2012 Rs.34 million

57

 

Provision of Toilets

Due to absence of proper latrine facilities drinking water is frequently being contaminated by Ecoli. Though the normal working families in estates may have the capacity to construct a toilet, unawareness of proper sanitary and hygienic practices have been hindered them in investing such construction. During 2011 Berendina introduced knowledge plus credit service to construct the toilets providing Rs. 30,000 loan. But families who have no capacity to get this done were fully funded to construct latrines.

 

Elders Programme

BDS has implemented number of programmes in order to improve mental and physical well being of elderly. Activities conducted with the active participation of elders' clubs include Picnic / Pilgrimages, Shramadana campaigns, livelihood development activities, Elders’ Sports Meets, exposure visits and health clinics.

 

Safe drinking water to door step

The objective of safe drinking water supply programme of BDS is to ensure access to safe drinking water at household levels and also to improve the sanitary conditions in communities living in estates A partnership approach is implemented by BDS to implement this programme in few selected estates, Palm foundation have been employed as technical and implementation partner.

 

Jobs provided

More than 1500 youths have also been provided jobs through the Berendina Employment Centers operated by Berendina.

 

Credit

Credit is provided for line repairs, re-roofing and electrification and now for toilet constriction. In addition income generation loans are given for vegetable cultivation, livestock and small trading where this is possible. The average loan size provided to individuals range from Rs. 25,000 to 75,000.

All beneficiaries are initially selected by the Plantation Management and all loans given through the Plantation Co-operative. Bulk loans are given through the co-operative to clients approved by management and the co-operative is given percentage of the interest to strengthen same. Berendina charges interest at 11% and 12% flat rate which is the lowest amongst private non subsidized micro finance agencies.

In addition, Berendina is in the process of introducing a new housing loan, to estate workers to construct partially or fully build houses. This will be started in pilot basis at one estate in Watawala Plantations and replicated in to other estates.

 

Summary of the Credit Programme (as of 31 December 2013)

Number of Active Borrowers 5,602
Percentage of Females 49%
Outstanding Loan portfolio Rs. 91,359,477
Total number of Loans Disbursed during the year 1,385
Total value of loans disbursed during the year Rs. 79,524,700