Accelerating Rural Growth and Empowering the Rural Poor

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THEME: Accelerating Rural Growth and Empowering the Rural Poor

TOPIC: The efficiency of the Samurdhi program in accelerating rural growth.

By
Fathima Shazana Magdon Ismail
(Department of Economics, University of Colombo, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka)

Background paper for the 5th South Asian Economics Students Meet, 28th January to 3rd February 2008, New Delhi, India Accelerating Rural Growth and Empowering the Rural Poor

The efficiency of the Samurdhi program in accelerating rural growth in Sri Lanka

Shazana Ismail
Department of Economics, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Abstract
Poverty reduction has been always a strategic consideration for all Sri Lankan governments since independence. As such, there have been many programs addressing the issue of poverty over the years. The poverty reduction framework is based on three strategies: Creating opportunities for the poor to participate in economic growth; strengthening the social protection system; Empowering people to participate fully in the development process. The Janasaviya and the Samurdhi (prosperity) program can be identified as two of the major income transfer programs conducted by the government of Sri Lanka. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the efficiency of the Samurdhi program to accelerate the rural growth and empower the rural poor in Sri Lanka. The finding shows that the Samurdhi program will empower the rural poor and accelerate rural growth in the country through the achievement of its objectives, creating employment opportunities and alleviating poverty if implemented in the proper manner. In contrary, it is also argued that the Samurdhi program by it self solely may not be sufficient to bring about rapid rural growth and poverty reduction through the trickle down effect. This analysis is undertaken based on data and information from secondary sources. The paper initially focuses on the theme of the paper there by the efficiency of the Samurdhi program to accelerate the rural growth and empower the rural poor in Sri Lanka will be analyzed in the preceding sections.

1. Introduction
Poverty is the lack of some fixed level of material goods necessary for survival and minimal well-being. In most cases, it is associated with numerous characteristics like lack of assets, landlessness, unemployment or underemployment, illiteracy, malnutrition, high infant mortality, large family size, low productivity, low position in the social hierarchy, less access to publicly provided goods and poor infrastructural facilities and extreme vulnerability to natural disasters, disease and social conflicts. In economic sense, poverty may be understood as a condition in which a person or community is deprived of the basic needs for a minimum standard of well-being and life, particularly as a result of a persistent lack of wealth and income, or wealth and income disparities. Though Sri Lanka is widely cited as country for achieving high levels of human development, the majority of rural people are living in a state of poverty. As a matter of fact, poverty is the major problem in the community development process in the country.

There by, there arises a need for the government to redirect its welfare policies and programs to assist the poor adequately. The Government has made an effort by imposing poverty alleviation programs to eradicate poverty accelerate the rural growth and to empower the rural poor. Since independence, successive governments have made an extraordinary effort to deepen its understanding of the nature and root causes of poverty in Sri Lanka, with a view to reassessing and reformulating its policy framework for reducing poverty. In order to alleviate poverty, they have implemented direct and indirect programs. The Janasaviya[1] and the Samurdhi program can be identified as two of the major income transfer – food subsidy programs conducted by the government of Sri Lanka since 1948, which have sought to directly tackle the...
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