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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Status of Usaid/Office Of

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000920

SIPDIS

FOR D, SA, SA/INS; PASS ALSO TO AID/ANE/ESA
(BBUNDY) and AID/DCHA/OTI (RWAX)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PGOV PREL PINS CE LTTE
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka: Status of USAID/Office of
Transition Initiatives

1. SUMMARY: As Washington prepares for the Tokyo
Donors' Conference next month, we thought it useful
to provide an update on what promises to be a
highly successful assistance program in Sri Lanka.
USAID/OTI has made excellent progress during the
past two months and should become fully operational
by the end of June. With a combination of
Transition Initiatives and Economic Support Funds,
USAID/OTI manages a flexible, fast response $3.5
million small grants program that supports the
peace process. To date, OTI has signed 17 grants in
different parts of Sri Lanka valued at
approximately $370,000 and will soon open field
offices in Trincomalee and Ampara. END SUMMARY

2. Since commencing in early March, the USAID/OTI
Sri Lanka program has sought to enhance the
political space needed to further the ongoing peace
process. OTI has two main objectives - mitigating
conflict and building constituencies for peace. OTI
has delivered visible, high impact peace dividends
to lessen the influence of potential spoilers of
the peace process, and supported conflict
mitigation and resolution activities in flashpoint
areas such as Trincomalee and Batticaloa in eastern
Sri Lanka. OTI grants support positive, community-
based interaction among diverse groups of people;
promote citizen involvement in community decision
making, particularly for rehabilitating community-
based infrastructure; improve livelihoods and
provide skills training; and, increase
dissemination of balanced information and diverse
points of view. OTI's contractual partner,
Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), implements
the $3.5 million small grants program.

3. The Colombo-based part of the OTI program has
become fully operational. In order to have the OTI
program more linked with local communities and to
present a higher profile for USG assistance to Sri
Lanka, field offices will open in Trincomalee and
Ampara. OTI staff have made several visits to each
location over the past six weeks; we anticipate two
field offices functioning by the end of June.

4. During the start-up phase, OTI cleared seventeen
grants obligating approximately $370,000. Initial
grants have achieved regional diversity to
underscore the nationwide focus of the program,
plus have targeted key program areas such as
community-based reconstruction projects and needed
media-related initiatives. In recent weeks, OTI has
funded two prominent Sri Lankan Colombo-based NGOs
to implement activities that target information
dissemination and conflict-sensitive reporting;
made eight grants in Jaffna mainly for high
visibility "peace dividend" projects such as
schools and micro-enterprises; provided a grant to
the base hospital in Puttalam to address a glaring
public health problem; and another grant to a local
organization in the South to promote exchanges
between communities there and the Northeast.

5. In order to underscore the fast and flexible
nature of the program, within the next two weeks
OTI will field a team in southwest Sri Lanka to
explore post-flood grant opportunities as people
return and begin rebuilding shattered lives. Given
the devastating effects of the floods and the very
real possibility that unwieldy and unresponsive
post-emergency support mechanisms will lead to
political discontent, OTI plans to use its "peace
dividends" mandate to help repair key
infrastructure such as schools, feeder roads, and
irrigation canals.

6. The following is a list of the 17 OTI grants
to date:
- Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies: Newspaper
Advertisements on Petition in Support of Peace
Process
- Jaffna Social Action Center: Creating Livelihoods
for Returnees on Karainagar Island
- Jaffna Zonal Education Department: English
Language Enrichment Program
- Jaffna's Wholistic Health Center: Re-activation
of Three Pre-Schools
- Chundikuli Girls School: Peace Education and
National Integration Workshops for Jaffna School
Prefects
- Vaehilihini Development Center: Peacebuilding
Training Among Community-Based Organizations in
Moneragala
- Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India:
Rehabilitation of the Varany Mission Poultry Farm
- Chavakacheri Hindu College: Reconstruction of
School Water Supply System
- Jaffna's Wholistic Health Center: Promoting Peace
Building Schools Through Non-Violent Communication
- Chandrapura Skandavarodaya High School in Jaffna:
Construction of Science Lab Facility
- Center for Policy Alternatives: Community Level
Seminars on Peace Process Issues
- Center for Policy Alternatives: Conflict-
Sensitive Journalism Field Workshops
- Child Vision: Construction of Incinerator at
Puttalam Base Hospital
- Muslim Rights Organization: Land Tenure Survey in
the Eastern Province
- Karuna Center for Peacebuilding: Workshop for
Reconciliation Trainers
- Center for Policy Alternatives: Peace Monitor
Publication in Three Languages
- International Organization for Migration:
Information Counseling and Referral Service for Ex-
Combatants
WILLS

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