Obama pledged to improve Africa’s agriculture rather than just dumping food aid. In past, there were provisos in aid deals such that all food had to be transported from the west. I think this is great. Teach a man to fish you know. In the same way, one thing I’ve seen in Sri Lankan relief and reconstruction work is that there’s a lot more we can do locally. The urge is to pump stuff out from Colombo, but the danger is that this can often atrophy the local economy. There’s all this money passing through but none of it sticks. Plus petrol, plus time, plus etc. Whereas a lot of stuff you can simply buy locally.
When I first travelled north I thought I was like Christopher Columbus going into Vavuniya. Much to my surprise there was a Food City in town, banks, whatever. In fact, Bazaar Street is just like Pettah. You can get almost everything you need, and certainly everything an IDP would get. Milk, soap powder, fruit, whatever.
However, I talked to some local businessmen and they said business was down. I was like what and they were like ‘our customers are in camps.’ The residents of Kilinochchi and Mullativu and Mannar who used to stock up in Vavuniya are in IDP camps being supplied via Colombo and the World Food Program. Which is fine, but the guys in Vavuniya do have some supplies themselves. In fact, one businessmen said the Vavuniya community would step in to even sponsor IDPs if they were allowed. He actually went so far as to say they’d vote for Mahinda if allowed.
Personally, I think this is common sense. I think that IDPs should be allowed to stay with families or Vavuniya or the south if they’re cleared and effectively ‘bailed out’. Barring that, I think the northern communities should be allowed to help, and I think they should be the suppliers of choice. For at least civilian relief I think we should try to get as much as possible in Vavuniya town.
It’s much easier than transporting and clearing through Colombo and it helps the local economy. Purely for reference I’ve included the contacts and products available through two suppliers in Vavuniya town. If you’re considering donating food items or clothes I highly recommend getting them from town itself. These guys even deliver.
They say the government is spending $2.5 million dollars everyday on IDPs. Why not put more of that money into the northern economy?
Kasipillai & Sons – Mr Sivapalan
Bazar Street, Vavuniya
Contat No: 024 2222387
32, Bazar Street, Vavuniya
Contact No: 024 2222330 / 024 2221172
|Items||Supplier 1||Supplier 11|
|1. Anchor (400g)||248.00||255.00|
|2. Anchor 1+ (400g)||270.00||275.00|
|3. Anchor Non Fat (400g)||285.00||290.00|
|4. Cerelac 400 gms pkts|
|c. Apple & Cereals||280.00||285.00|
|e. Mixed fruit||330.00||335.00|
|5. Lactogen 1 400 gms||307.00||310.00|
|6. Lactogen 2 400 gms||267.00||270.00|
|7. Golden Cow||165.00||165.00|
|8. Aniline (400g)||285.00||290.00|
|9. Samaposa (200g)||42.00||42.00|
|10. Glucose (std)||—–||35.00|
|11. Anmum (std)||—–||290.00|
|12. Pedia Sugar (std)||—–||750.00|
|13. Jeevani (std)||—-||17.00|