When people are starving, why should we invest in macro projects?” A foreign diplomat asked. Jens Ploetner, German Ambassador in Sri Lanka, speaking at a function in Colombo on Thursday to announce German grant aid to the tune of 2.9 million Euros to develop vocational skills among the conflict affected youth and war widows in the East, with a similar programme earmarked for the North, however said that in the next step they would invest in longer term projects.
“But once Sri Lanka doubles its per capita GDP income, it will not be eligible for classical development aid, then it will be cooperation in the area of environmental sustainability, a project that we have embarked upon with the Environment Ministry,” he said.
“Ending the war is one thing, obtaining peace is another thing,” Ploetner further said.
This is a complex task. The wounds of war need to be healed. Give people hope that a better tomorrow is attainable, he said.
“One of the major questions that the East asked us was how will I earn my bread tomorrow,” said Ploetner. “The peace job is for the Government of Sri Lanka, we feel that we should give hope to the youth in the East so that they can have a better life tomorrow,” he said.
“We believe in help, to self-help. We are giving them material, people are waiting for them in the job market,” said Ploetner. At least 2,000 people will have a better future.
“A war widow with three children, living in dignity, then we have achieved our objective,” he said.
Dr. Wilfried Liehr, Country Director GTZ (German Government’s technical development arm), in his speech said that a skilled workforce has the capacity to drive development.
Germany is working on the vocational training programme in the East, in partnership with the Chamber of Construction Industry.
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