The Contribution of Women in Rebuilding Livelihoods in the Long-Term After Involuntary Resettlement: A Case Study of Resettlers of Kotmale Dam, Sri Lanka

Jagath Manatunge, Shuichi Yamazawa, M. M. Mahesh Samanpriya


The experiences of resettlers of Kotmale Dam, Sri Lanka is revisited, with a focus on the involvement of women in shaping the well-being of the family, more than 35 years after their resettlement. This study is based on field visits to eight resettlement sites in Mahaweli System B, C, and H, in which interviews were held mainly with the women of the first generation of resettlers. In most cases, women had to contribute to farm labour apart from housework. With time, women were instrumental in saving enough money, which enabled them to purchase agriculture machinery that lessened the burden of women who engaged in agriculture. The time thus saved could be used for additional income generating activities. Resettlers who were resettled in Mahaweli areas have now reached a stage where they have been successful in the formation of social/community networks and satisfactory economic development. The contribution of women has been a catalyst for such successes. The second/third generations have better opportunities for the future. The results indicate that resettlers, especially women, have made conscious choices for their future, especially for their children. For future resettlement programmes, it is essential that considerations of women’s economic role in the household should be given prominence.

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