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ON THE GROUND Quarterly e-newsletter of UNDP Sri Lanka Produced by the Communications Unit

Issue 22 | May 2014 | @UNDPSriLanka

Inside this issue:

Launch of SELAJSI | Regional Director’s visit | Stay up-to-date | CO Retreat 2014 (part 1) | UNDP at WCY 2014 | Story | Staff profiles | Volunteer’s corner




Visit of Mr. Haoliang Xu Mr. Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Chair, United Nations Development Group Asia-Pacific and UNDP Assistant Administrator & Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific visited Sri Lanka from February 9-12, 2014. During his visit, he met and held discussions with President, H. E. Mahinda Rajapaksa, other high level Government officials, civil society members and women leaders. He also participated at the launch of the new programme on Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration (SELAJSI), engaged in a field visit to the Northern Districts, and interacted with the staff and UN Country Team. For more details: More on his visit is also captured in this issue’s ‘In Pictures’ segment

Welcome to the second issue of On the Ground for 2014. This issue brings to you snippets from the past few months, including the Regional Director’s visit, launch of new programmes, key events and the coming together of staff at the retreat. We also take a look at what’s in store for the next few months. Razina Bilgrami,

Country Director a. i., UNDP Sri Lanka

A look back Launch of SELAJSI On February 12, 2014, UNDP in Sri Lanka launched its new flagship programme, Strengthening Enforcement of Law, Access to Justice and Social Integration (SELAJSI), in the presence of Mr. Haoliang Xu, the visiting United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, Chair, United Nations Development Group Asia-

Pacific and UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Hon. Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice, Hon. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Minister of National Languages and Social Integration, Hon. S. C. Muthukumarana, Deputy Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Mr. Eric Illayaparachchi, Secretary of Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, and Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka. The Programme is being implemented in partnership with the

SNIPPETS World Water Day 2014 Celebrating World Water Day on March 22, 2014, UNDP partnered with the Ministry of Environment and Expolanka Holdings to launch this year’s Every Drop Matters project at a ceremony at the Central Bank premises. This year’s programme focused on spreading awareness on water conservation amongst the communities living in Seethawaka, bordering the Kelani River. As part of the project, encouraging families to dispose of their garbage in a proper manner, separate garbage bags for bio-degradables, plastics and glass, were also distributed by the Seethawaka Urban Council. The event builds on last year’s project, where UNDP together with the Ministry, Expolanka Holdings, the Biyagama Local Authority, the UN Volunteers and other volunteer groups, took steps to improve the understanding of water quantity and quality issues among communities in Biyagama.

Unity in colourfully blended cultural diversity The 2014 calendar produced by the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration portrays the diverse cultures and traditions of the many communities in Sri Lanka, as an effort to raise awareness, promote understanding and integration between and among these communities. The production of the calendar was supported by UNDP Sri Lanka. Take a look at the calendar here: com/photos/undpsrilanka/ sets/72157641153702665/#

Highlights from the past few months

Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms and the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs. The Programme also builds on efforts by civil society

organizations, especially women’s and youth organizations, to engage in social integration and reconciliation efforts in the country, and provide platforms to strengthen partnerships among different groups.

UNV contributes to the National Unity Convention

KOICA volunteers visit UNDP On April 22, 2014, the 49th and 50th batches of the Korean overseas volunteers in Sri Lanka from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) visited UNDP, to learn more about our programmes.

More than 70 volunteers contributed to the National Unity Convention organized by the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration on 7th April 2014 at BMICH under the auspicious of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Convention was organized to build a consensus on the peoples’ charter to preserve “Unity in Diversity” in Sri Lanka. The volunteers put together an art and essay exhibition, cultural performances, a “Mehendi” and a language stall that promoted a trilingual Sri Lanka and represented the different ethnic communities in the country. A food corner, with finger food from different communities, a sign-language stall and a photo booth for the participants to endorse their message on “Unity in Diversity” were some of the convention highlights.


Stay up-to-date! UNDP Sri Lanka wins the RBAP Innovation Fund The Sri Lanka CO was one of the winners of the RBAP Innovation Fund, following two rounds of reviews. Sri Lanka’s proposal titled ‘Youth Participation and Engagement’ is based on promoting active participation and engagement of youth in policy making through an interactive web portal platform using the upcoming National Human Development Report (NHDR) 2014 as an advocacy tool. The NHDR focuses on youth and development, their opportunities and challenges, and is expected to provide a new platform and an agenda for policy development and reform.

CO hosts hub-style innovations workshop Sri Lanka hosted a 3-day regional workshop on innovations in programming. Colleagues from Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) attended the workshop. The trainings enabled the teams to gain in-depth understanding of innovation tools and techniques, applying innovation as a programmatic principle and building prototypes. The workshop was also an opportunity for colleagues who have progressed to the second round of the Innovations Fund to apply innovation tools and techniques and refine their submissions. The innovations workshop was held on April 28, 29 and 30.

World Conference on Youth UNDP actively engaged with the World Conference on Youth (WCY) held from May 7-9, 2014. UNDP conducted side events, prepared background papers, nominatied resources persons to be speakers and participatied at the UN exhibition booth. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, made a presentation during the main plenary on day 1 delving into the topic, ‘mainstreaming youth in the post 2015 development agenda - looking back’. Regional experts including Elodie Beth Seo, Regional AntiCorruption Advisor of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific in New York, and Tasneem Mizra, Economic Specialist and Youth Focal Point of the Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok, made presentations during roundtable plenaries and breakout sessions on the topics of ‘achieving good governance and accountability’ and ‘inclusive youth participation at all levels,’ respectively. In addition, from the UNDP team in Sri Lanka, Sonali Dayaratne, Policy Specialist, Gita Sabharwal, Reconciliation and Development Advisor and Ananda Mallawatantri, Assistant Country Director, Environment and Disaster Resilience Cluster presented on the topics, ‘achieving good governance and accountability’, ‘realizing peace, reconciliation and ending violence’ and ‘environmental protection, emergency prepardeness and youth centered urbanization’, respectively. Two side events were also held, featuring panel discussions on the upcoming NHDR and the Asia-Pacific HDR focusing on the preliminary findings of these reports. More on UNDP’s engagement at WCY is featured in this issue’s ‘In Pictures’ segment.

Training on social media usage Silke von Brockhausen, Communications and Social Media Specialist from UNDP headquarters, conducted training on the usage of social media as a tool for communications to the UNDP team in the Sri Lanka CO during her visit to the country from May 21-22, 2014. She also shared experiences and best practices on using social media with the UNDP communications team and held a brief session with the UN Communications Group as well.

UNDP Sri Lanka wins RBAP Green Fund UNDP in Sri Lanka was one of the country offices to emerge as a winner of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP) Green Funds competition, as part of their initiative to fund solar projects and other energy efficient initiatives in the Asia and Pacific region. The UNDP Sri Lanka project will involve the setting up of a solar photovoltaic system with an interactive invertor that will supply excess electricity to the national grid and lead to deductions on energy bills.

Watch out for... National Human Development Report 2014


The launch of the National Human Development Report 2014 is set to take place on August 12, 2014, in line with the International Youth Day. The report is expected to be a policy tool providing a new platform for policy development and reform.



Did you know that UNDPs support to develop and promote the Citizen’s Charter has improved service delivery, transparency and accountability in public administration? How do such initiatives help the broader community?


asendrah Thanaluxmy (35) was displaced on two occasions, once during the conflict and the other during the aftermath of the devastating Tsunami that hit the country in 2004. Throughout this time she lost all her basic legal documents including her National ID and birth certificate. Consequently, she faced many challenges as the absence of these vital documents hampered access to employment, education and other services. Commencing in 2009 and still continuing, UNDP stepped into working with the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs to further develop and promote the Citizen’s Charter - which laid down a set of commitments by the Government towards the people on the standard of services it provides including the types of services, how these can be accessed at all levels, timeframes and officials responsible for delivering these services. With its help, Nasendrah was able to easily obtain a replacement of her birth certificate. As Nasendrah herself pointed out, “Now that I have my legal documents of identification, I can apply for employment and enroll my children in school without any difficulties”. Ms. S. R. Rahulanayahi, Divisional Secretary, Karalaipattu North, Vaharai is happy to be able provide a more efficient service to the community and says, “the Citizen’s Charter is playing an important role in citizen’s being able to get the services they need through the the DS office. People go through a lot of trouble and inconvenience to get here and come with a lot of expectations. Most of the time, they do not have all the necessary documents. For such people, the Citizen’s Charter provides useful basic information. A visibility board has been put up at the DS office, detailing the types of services and resources available at our office.” She goes on to say, “the system as a whole, has improved the service delivery and there is more trust being built between people and officials, what would earlier take hours or days, can now be done in a few minutes.”


In pictures Visit of the Regional Director A brief look at the visit of Mr. Haoliang Xu to Sri Lanka where he met and engaged in discussions with Government officials, civil society representives, the UN Country Team and UNDP staff.



In pictures CO Retreat 2014 (Part 1) UNDP Country Office staff gathered at the ‘Mihilaka Medura’ at the BMICH on Thursday, March 20, 2014, as part of the first phase of the CO Retreat for this year. The one-day event delved further into the CO’s key priorities and commitments for 2014 and beyond, with each unit highlighting their key priorities for the year. Staff also engaged in dialogue on the results of the Global Staff Survey, specifically looking at key areas of improvement and recommendations for the rest of the year. The Retreat concluded with several fun team-building activities.


Main Plenary - Day 1

UNDP @ WCY 2014 From presentations by national and regional experts to sharing the key findings of the national and regional Human Development Reports and participating at the UN exhibition booth, a look back at UNDP’s participation at and contribution towards the World Conference on Youth 2014. Roundtable plenaries

APHDR side event

NHDR side event

Roundtable plenaries

UN officials at the UN Compound

UN exhibition booth

UN exhibition booth




All the best Ananda!


aking over the reins as the Team Leader of UNDP’s Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Cluster in 2006, Ananda Mallawatantri had a lot on his hands. It was just over a year ago that Sri Lanka’s coast was struck by a massive Tsunami and there was an urgent need for a programme that sought to address disaster management concerns in the country. In fact, as Ananda says, this was what really influenced him to take up this position expanding his role from the position of Director - Energy and Environment at USAID Colombo. “The potential this presented to combine environment and disaster management along with climate change was an excellent opportunity,” he notes. Of his early days at UNDP, he says, “at that time, the disaster management portfolio was beginning to get noticed as an effective strategy.” As such, the team partnered with other UN agencies to deliver effective responses. “We partnered with UNV - we had over 35 UNVs at that time working with us on Tsunami related projects. This was one of the biggest utilization of UNVs at that time,” he explains. Later, UNDP’s Environment Cluster, partnered with UNHCR to respond in advance of the monsoon season to install and manage an extensive drainage and a sewerage systems at Menik Farm to prevent an outbreak of diseases and epidemics among the IDPs at the complex. UNDP also partnered with the Geneva, Paris and Bangkok based sections of the UN Environment Programme, the World Food Programme, UN OCHA and the Food and Agriculture Organization, among others, on various projects and initiatives. As time went by, Ananda, with his team, began looking for new opportunities, especially in mobilizing funds through new sources including climate change windows. As a result of all these efforts, the portfolio of the cluster, now called, Environmental Sustainability and Disaster Resilience (ESDR), is diverse and country-specific, and has been recognized by the Government, media, academia and UN agencies. Of the projects and approaches he likes the most, Ananda says what stands out are the ones where UNDP has been able to bring together multiple agencies, pool information and resolve conflicts by creating an enabling environment to table opinions and plans and discuss, negotiate and respond to challenges for the betterment of the communities. For example, he speaks of the development of Hazard Profiles, the

As he begins his new assignment, there is a lot that Ananda will take with him, especially the great teams he has worked with over the years, the wonderful memories and the experiences. Talking about some of the colleagues he notes, “It is heartening that some of our team members are now serving internationally – it means we’ve laid a good foundation for them”. He’ll also take with him his achievements, he says, pointing to a plaque that reads, “In recognition of the innovative ideas – ability to challenge conventional thinking and constant search to identify new ways of doing business.” “It was great to be a part of the UNDP team. Our role is to understand the country’s needs and position development assistance to improve the capacity of our diverse set of clients including youth,” he says, adding, “UNDP should see itself as a giver as well as a facilitator to share the country’s experiences

and lessons with others. With that, we can really be a partner in local and global progress.” After over 7 years at UNDP, starting May, Ananda moved to lead the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Sri Lanka as its Country Representative.

Sri Lankan Youth: Volunteering to Make a Difference UN Volunteers launched its new report, ‘Sri Lankan Youth: Volunteering to Make a Difference’ on the sidelines of the World Conference on Youth, on 9th May 2014.

Integrated Strategic Environmental Assessment for the North and Every Drop Matters initiative, each of which involved more than 20 government agencies. This partnering ability also led to initiatives UNDP’s Environment Cluster can be proud of, such as being mandated by the President to develop the 2014 to 2018 Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme to bring together the work of over 40 agencies into a single thrust to improve the disaster resilience in the country. As Ananda says, “it is encouraging to note that today UNDP’s ESDR Programme has grown into a trusted partner for disaster management, climate change and natural resource management in the country with more possibilities!” There are also many aspects the cluster can be proud of. Among them, for instance is when the Archeological Department gazetted around 200 archeological sites as a result of UNDP’s support in Northern Province development. It is also noteworthy that representatives from UNDP have been in the judging panels in almost all key annual awards related to environment and energy such as the Best Corporate Citizen Award; National Cleaner Production Award and Green Awards.

The Report was launched under the patronage of Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Youth Affairs and Skills Development, Ahmad Alhendawi, UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy, Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Allen Jennings, Chief of Development Planning – UNV Headquarters, Razina Bilgrami, Country Director, a.i., UNDP Sri Lanka, senior government officials and representatives of civil society organizations, V-Awards 2013 Youth Award winner, volunteers from youth-led organizations and youth groups in Sri Lanka and delegates of WCY. The report emphasizes the significance of integrating volunteerism as a fundamental pillar into future

development concepts and recognizes the importance of volunteerism as a universal strategy to promote the engagement of youth in achieving sustainable development in the post-2015 era. Read the Report here:




your colleagues...

An initiative of UNV Sri Lanka, the Volunteer Task Force (V-Force) brings together everyone who has a passion for volunteering. V-Force members connect with the various opportunities in the development sector. In the V-Force corner of this issue, we feature 4V-Force members. If you are interested in becoming part of the V-Force, register at:

Force: It is what the volunteers were doing at the V Awards What do you do: Studying for a ‘Unveiling of the Finalists’ which attracted me to join the bachelor degree at ACHE V-Force. V-Force volunteer since: Recent V-Force event you were December 2011 part of: I was part of the UNV What made you join the V- Sri Lanka report on ‘Sri Lankan Name: M. A. Abdul Basith

Friends and colleagues, Ashan and Amanthi opt to shed light on each other.

Chanaka Liyanage

Procurement Associate

Ashan Abeywardena

Chanaka loves to experiment with cooking, watching movies and listening to music, mainly classics. He has been working with UNDP since 2004.

Programme Analyst Ashan is described as forthright, chilled-out and protective of his sunspecs.

Doyen Yun

JPO - Programme Analyst

Born in Busan, South Korea, Doyen says she has travelled a lot and lived in different parts of the world. However, this is her first time in South Asia, and she is quite excited about that. Something she considers cool about herself is the internship she did at the Supreme Court in Korea! As for the past few months in Sri Lanka, Doyen says she’s enjoyed it a lot. “I can speak a bit of Sinhala, and I will be starting Tamil classes soon,” she adds. She spent the long April weekend travelling to Sigiriya, Kandy and Haputale.

We get to know Amanthi as a dedicated and passionate person who can’t live without her phone. His favourite restaurant is SSC, while the UN café comes in as a close second. When it comes to his favourite vacation spot, Ashan prefers South Sudan (where he once lived), and if not, the beach. There is quite a lot that you might or might not know about Ashan, and Amanthi has a hard time picking her favourites. She finally decides on two - he’s moved homes 27 times in 14 years and loves to collect antique watches.

She spends most of her time (in order) in the UN compound (not by choice), home and gym. As for holidaying, Amanthi aspires to do so in 2014. Fact about Amanthi, courtesy Ashan, she loves hot butter cuttlefish, especially from Suki’s Wok. She is generally obsessed with cafes, sandwich places and take outs around Colombo and is a great point of call for advice on such matters!

Memorable event: The UN-habitat post-conflict conference - I was exposed to the UN system and learnt a lot about organizing an international conference. Most recent V-Force event I also met priviledged you were part of: UNV report personalities and learnt what launch at WCY 2014. true volunteering is.

V-Force volunteer since: October 2013, taking part in the UN-Habitat post-conflict conference.

Programme Analyst

Name: Isurika Wijewardhena

Memorable event: ‘V Awards 2013’ and the UNV Sri Lanka report. It helped me develop my designe skills.

What made you join the VForce: I attended V Awards 2013 and it was seeing the commitment of the V-Force that made me commit myself.

What do you do: I am in my final year studying bio medical.

Amanthi Wickramasinghe

Doyen joined UNDP Sri Lanka’s team in January this year in her first posting as a Junior Professional Officer (JPO).

Name: Yasodhara Kapuge

Youth: Volunteering to Make a Difference”, which was launched at WCY

and my first event was the National Unity Convention.

When it comes to food, Chanaka is a fan of any local food, especially what’s hot and spicy. When given the chance to take a trip, he’ll love to go to Malaysia because as he says it is one of the nicest places to be in.

What do you do: I am studying at the University of Kelaniya What made you join the Vreading for the special degree Force: I always wanted to do something special, something in International Studies inspiring in my life. The V-Force V-Force volunteer since: 2014 helped me to fill that vacuum.

Fact about Chanaka, he composes music; he is already working on a few simple pieces.

Name: Sisini Thrikawala

to a V-Force meeting and I loved the spirit. Ever since, the What do you do: I am studying V-Force has been my second at the University of Colombo family, a learning ground and my avenue for giving back to V Force Volunteer since: 2012 my community.

Memorable event: The twinning schools programme, because as the facilitator coordinator, I had the opportunity to support the planning and implementation of the event and spent three days with students who What made you join the Most recent V-Force event you were participating in the V-Force: I just followed a friend were part of: WCY programme.

Most recent V-Force event you were part of: WCY Memorable Event: WCY - I got the chance to work with the UN, which was one of the best experiences in my life. I also made new friends and learnt about team work.

UNDP Sri Lanka Newsletter: On the Ground (Issue 22)  
UNDP Sri Lanka Newsletter: On the Ground (Issue 22)