Mobilizing Women, Creating Loans
This project began when one of the communities that SCI was working with as part of an urban greening project was wiped out during the 2006 tsunami. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the entire settlement's houses were gone. SCI leveraged individual donations into a CIDA-funded reconstruction project to ensure that women had a say in the reconstruction of their communities, and improve municipal governance in two tsunami affected cities, Moratuwa and Matara. The project mobilized local women to participate in decision making about their communities and reconstruction, training them in various livelihood skills, particularly those such as urban greening that enhance the environment, and building networks of women sharing their experiences in post disaster reconstruction. One aspect of the project involved building Women's Community Resource Centres (CRCs). These have been designed through a participatory community design process to serve as women run and managed safe places for community members to organize, exchange information, receive/provide livelihood training and education, offer services and sustain women's public participation through the project period and beyond. The CRCs are now fully operational and include health clinics and classroom space.
In addition, 19 savings and loans circles were set up, and loans have been made for the operation of small enterprises within and outside the Community Resource Centers. Women have physically improved their communities by building drains and improving the canal leading to the river. They are engaged in micro-enterprises – raising mushrooms and herbs for medicines. Youth have been engaged in the project as well, which augments their self-esteem and role in the community.