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TDH in Sri Lanka


Mother and Child Health - Water, sanitation and hygiene - Psychosocial and protection


Active in Sri Lanka since 1978, in 2010 Terre des hommes (Tdh) supported more than 56,000 people to overcome difficulties linked to the aftermath of 25 years of war and the 2004 tsunami.

The situation of the children

  • 29% of the population is less than 18 years old
  • 15 children out of 1,000 die before the age of 5 years of age
  • 22% of the children under 5 are underweight
  • 8% of the 5-14 year olds work


In most parts of Sri Lanka, especially in remote areas where Tdh intervenes, the population still suffers from the consequences of a conflict that lasted for 25 years and which came to an end in May 2009. Security in the former conflict area remains tense, and movements of NGOs areas are restricted. In places affected by the 2004 tsunami, the situation is not yet back to normal, neither regarding access to services nor livelihood. Children are faced with health and nutrition issues, communities sharing a poor knowledge of best practices. Furthermore, the long history of violence and disasters has taken its toll on the communities and in particular on the children's well-being.


  • Mother and child health - In the North, Tdh works to improve the health status of pregnant and lactating mothers, women and their children under 5. To ensure sustainability, Tdh works through Community Health Volunteers who have been selected together with the Ministry of Health. They are trained to provide health promotion activities and referral where needed to government services, and they follow-up mothers and their children. In the East, Tdh works through a local partner who works with Mothers' Support Groups, raises their awareness on health, and builds/renovates health facilities. Health facilities are supported and standards of care improved.
  • Child protection - In the East, Tdh continues its effort to support affected children and youth, with community driven activities. In the North, Tdh renovates early childhood centres and trains community teachers to ensure the quality of care in the centres. Tdh also works for the reinforcement of community protection mechanisms. In Menik Farm camps, Tdh set up some Child Friendly Centres where children can attend recreational and sport activities for their well-being. Through their partner "Sunera Foundation" Tdh supports differently abled children.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene - All the projects implemented in Sri Lanka involve hygiene promotion and infrastructure work, such as latrines, wells or water supplies (rain water harvesting, wells).

Results in 2010

  • In the largest refugees' camp in the north of Sri Lanka, 13,000 children benefited from daily play, recreational activities and material support. 10 nursery schools were set up for over 400 children.
  • On the east coast, nearly 5,000 new born and children underweight, ill and particularly vulnerable,, and their mothers benefited from the Tdh project.
  • 23 wells and 65 toilets were built or renovated. 5 clinic centres were renovated and handed over to the Ministry of Health.
  • 4,000 children participated in psychosocial activities. 2,300 children participated in water related activities (including swimming). 13 Youth Clubs implemented projects in response to community needs. 13 community-based child protection structures responded to 200 individual cases.


Life as a Refugee: Hetuwa became displaced due to the armed conflict. Now, he and his family are living in a refugee camp.

My name is Hetuwa. I am 15 years old. Before the refugee camp, I used to live with my family in Puthukkudijiruppu, Mullaitivu. I have a brother and a sister. My father Ramesh used to work and my mother Gowrinayaki stayed at home. We had to flee because of the war. My father was injured while we were fleeing. Due to the lack of medication, he died. We were brought to the Ananthkumarasamy Refugee Camp. My mother does not have any support to look after our family, and it is only thanks to food aid we receive from humanitarian organisations and government agencies that we manage to survive. Our hearts are broken. We are waiting for peace, and longing to return to our lives in our own place that we have lost in this horrible war. Although I go to school in the refugee camp every day, the classroom is not big enough to receive all the children, and thus only few subjects are taught. I will not be well prepared for my final exams, and this is a very big worry for me. I wish I could live in my home and receive proper education so as to create a fruitful future for my mother, brother and sister.

I am grateful to Tdh and their staff, because they provide some happiness and peace through their activities in the refugee camp.

Sri Lanka in figures

  • Population: 20.2 million
  • 14% of the population lives below the poverty line
  • Life expectancy: 74 years
  • Human development index: 91st country out of 169 (CH: 13th)
  • Average monthly salary on the coast: CHF 35.-
  • 1 kg of rice costs CHF 1.-
  • 1.5 litres of drinking water: CHF 0.50
  • Construction of a well: CHF 3,000.-

What Tdh can do in Sri Lanka with CHF 20.-

  • Provide food for a family for 4-5 days;
  • Buy school material for a primary school child.

Presence of TDH in Sri Lanka

DELEGATE: Marcel Reymond - TDH EMPLOYEES: 55 national staff, an average of 100 volunteers - INTERVENTION AREAS: Vanni (Menik Farm, Manthai East, Thunukkai, PTK, Maritempattu), Batticaloa and Ampara - PARTNER ORGANISATIONS: Sunera Foundation, Sarvodaya - 2011 BUDGET: CHF 1,184,960.-