The forgotten people of Eluvaitivu island

The forgotten people of Eluvaitivu island

The forgotten people of Eluvaitivu island

Written by Nathasha De Alwis

21 May, 2018 | 12:25 am

COLOMBO (News 1st) – Day to day life is a daily struggle for the inhabitants of the islets surrounding the Jaffna peninsula. This was abundantly clear to News1st reporters who traveled deep into the heart of Jaffna over the course of last week.

After traveling 20km from Jaffna town, the News 1st team made it to the Karampan pier to start their ferry ride to Eluvaitivu island. The island has an area of 1.4 square kilometers and a population of 555 as at the 2012 census. Eluvaitivu has no causeway connecting it to the mainland or other islands and the ferry acts as the only mode of access to the Jaffna peninsula.

Hunger is a daily reality for the residents of Eluvaitivu who also struggle to access basic public services taken for granted by urban Sri Lankans.

Among the people, the team met on the island was Anushiya. In spite of the numerous obstacles facing them, Anushiya’s family meets the challenges of life head-on as they struggle every day to simply make ends meet. Anushiya mends fishing nets and this is the only mode of income to put food on the table for 10 people.

Another source of income for many of the families on the island was the Palmyra palms. Villagers used every element of the Palmyra palm to produce a variety of goods. However, for some time now, the traders who purchase the goods they make, have stopped coming to the island, closing off a potentially lucrative means of earning a livelihood.

Although seemingly isolated from the rest of the country the stories of the people of Eluvaitivu bear a stark resemblance to the stories that we have heard from poverty-stricken communities from North to South. These are the people of Sri Lanka who have fallen through the development net. It does not take mega infrastructure projects or trade deals signed after months of negotiations to help them.

Identifying their needs and opening opportunities is all that is required to help make these islands, thriving communities. For them, there is only one question, when will they become a priority on the development agenda.


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