The United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia A. Butenis on Monday opened an apparel factory in Thirukkovil, Ampara, set up under the Eastern Garment Alliance, a public private alliance between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Daya Apparel Pvt. Ltd. Two other factories have already opened under this alliance over the past year, in Ninthavur and Maha Oya. The three factories have helped over 1,000 men and women from different ethnic backgrounds build skills and secure employment in conflict-affected Ampara. In addition to direct employment, the alliance has opened up secondary jobs, especially in construction.
In her final trip to the Eastern Province, Ambassador Butenis reflected at the opening, “I am delighted to be here in the east to see the progress of the region and its people. Since my first visit to the east, almost three years ago, what I see today is immense progress – increased economic growth, improved living conditions, and enhanced skills in a region affected by nearly 30 years of conflict.”
She added further, “Since the 1950s, the United States, working with the Government of Sri Lanka, has helped Sri Lankans to live better lives in a number of ways: through food assistance and nutrition programs, malaria control, agricultural and enterprise development, and post-disaster recovery. Today, we are building on this legacy by supporting long-term development for the Sri Lankan people.”
USAID’s Public Private Alliances initiative began in 2008, aiming to boost economic growth in conflict-affected regions. It has helped thousands get back on their feet and, equally important, created a platform where people of different ethnicities learn cooperation on the job.
After securing employment at the Daya Apparel Factory in Thirukkovil, one employee said, “I come from a poor family. I have studied up to Advance Level. Ever since I completed my Advance Level examinations, I have been looking for a job. But unless I was ready to go elsewhere there was nothing in my area. With the opening of the garment factory in Thirukkovil I found the job I have been looking for.”
USAID currently supports seven alliances with Sri Lankan companies in the aquaculture, horticulture, logistics and apparel sectors. In addition to the nearly $11 million USAID has provided, the alliances have leveraged approximately $26 million from its private partners.