The most urgent and important need for refugee returnees and former IDPs is the resumption of livelihood activities to allow them earn the livelihood. Many refugees return to find their paddy fields overgrown and without access to water, or their former small businesses destroyed. They need help to re-start their economic activities and become active participants in the local economy.
With help of local community organizations and government officials OfERR Ceylon identifies returnees eligible for livelihood support. OfERR Ceylon provides necessary inputs such as livestock (cattle, goats and poultry), paddy seeds, cashew plants, water pumps, delivery pipes, fencing materials, sprayers, fishing nets and gear, etc. to enable newly settled families to begin farming again and secure an income. The organization facilitates business and livelihood training and supports skilled returnees with assets such as sewing machines, carpentry and blacksmith tools.
The livelihood component aims to support returned refugees to engage in business/service enterprises and have better access to relevant information and are more confident in sustaining their ventures. Though the need for livelihood among the returnees is one of the major concerns, OfERR (Ceylon) attempts its best to support the refugee returnees with support schemes. The programmes funded by CRS, CCF, UNDP, USHA Silai and governmental schemes, have been utilized to provide financial and capacity building assistance to the returnees to sustain their lives.
Livelihood activities included assisting households with home gardening cultivation, providing paddy farmers with necessary inputs and providing groups of fishermen with fully equipped boats and fishing gear. Through OfERR Ceylon’s livelihood support program many beneficiaries were able to increase their income and better provide for their families, for example a milk collecting center and a Batik store offering stylish batik clothes in Trincomalee District.
OfERR has formed District Livelihood Cells and promoted entrepreneurship activities among the returnees. Under this program, livelihood applications were received from returnee families requesting for livelihood loan support. These applications were processed and the beneficiaries were supported with the livelihood grant and loan to successfully start their livelihood.