10-year National Plan of Action for Plantation Infrastructure Development

Tuesday, 5 May 2015 02:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Charumini de Silva The Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development has initiated an action to formulate a 10-year National Plan of Action 2015-2025 for social development of the plantation community with the technical assistance of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The key objectives of the National Plan of Action (NPA) are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the plantation areas, especially in the estate sector. The comprehensive 10-year NPA is expected to be finalised by end of July 2015. Given the national importance of this workshop, the Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development conducted an important workshop yesterday to formulate the NPA in Colombo under the patronage of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Policy Planning, Economic Affairs, Child, Youth and Cultural Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva, Plantation Infrastructure Development Minister Palani Thigambaram and UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Subinay Nandy. Speaking at inaugural session of the workshop, the Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development Secretary V. Sivagnanasothy said despite the substantial contribution of the plantation sector to the economic development, the plantation workers are the most disadvantaged social group in the country.             He pointed out that while most of the indicators of MDGs at national level are on track, the indicators of the estate sector have been relatively below the national average and in some cases off the track. The NPA will  focus on reducing poverty and hunger, access to primary, secondary and tertiary education, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat major diseases, gender equality, empowerment of women, environmental sustainability and improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and improve the social conditions of the plantation community. “The plantation workers undergo from very low income, cramped and unmodernised housing, poor healthcare, education and welfare services,” Sivagnanasothy added. He went on to say that the poverty head count ratio is alarmingly high in the estate sector which is 10.9% as against the national average of 6.7%. Underweight children under five-years in the estate sector is 30%, while infant mortality is as high as 29 per 1,000 live births. Only 52% of the population has access to safe drinking water and access to safe sanitation is only 73%.         The plantation industry contributes significantly to the national economy and accounts for over 22% of the country’s export earnings. From the inception of the industry for over 150 years, the sector has deployed plantation workers and they were provided with barrack type line rooms. At present, over 160,000 families still reside in the line rooms and are in poor conditions. However, Sivagnanasothy said that the Government has recognised these issues and given very high priority to uplift the social and living conditions of the plantation community. Therefore, the objectives of the 10-year National Plan of Action is aimed at identifying priority development interventions to ensure the achievements of the MDGs in the estate sector. In developing the NPA, a wider consultation process will be adopted with a large number of stakeholders including Ministry of Plantation Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Plantation Industries and other key line Ministries, Plantation Human Development Trust, UN agencies including UNDP, UNICEF, UN Habitat and donors such as World Bank, ADB, GIZ and Estate Housing Workers Co-operative Society, Planters’ Association, Regional Plantation Companies, district, divisional, local authorities including workers’ unions and research institutions, academia and civil society organisations.