Gama Neguma for 2012:
‘One work one village’ the theme
Sri Lanka has been a country of villages throughout history and the
fact remains the same even now. The rural community will be the
manufacturer of many goods in a continuous supply chain to the urban
consumer. Government initiated projects such as the Divi Neguma, Gama
Neguma, coordinated through the Economic Development Ministry, aims at
catering to this crucial manufacturing rural community by uplifting them
economically and socially.
During the past few years the contribution from regions outside the
Western Province has increased dramatically marking a significant change
in its contribution to national economy, said Nihal Somaweera,
Additional Secretary for Regional Development in the Economic
Development Ministry. “The Regional economy compulsorily should be well
connected to the national economy. Though many development initiatives
the Government provide various infrastructure for regional development
to link the village economy to the national ecomony,” he said. “Finally
everything must contribute to the national economy. Our responsibility
is to try and get the best benefit of the regional development and link
it with the National economy,” he added. Today the Divi Neguma and Gama
Neguma have become major contributors in developing the rural economy.
Implemented through the Economic Development Ministry under the
guidance of its Minister Basil Rajapaksa as per the vision of Mahinda
Chinthana, the government plans to carry on these programs in a slightly
different perspective this year. Gama Neguma 2012 was inaugurated by
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 23 at the auspicious time of 10.16
in the morning by starting the repair work of the Wewita irrigation tank
in Wewita in Bandaragama electorate. The theme for this year’s Gama
Neguma is ‘one work for one village’.
The development proposals came from the grass roots level. Minister
Basil Rajapaksa visited all 25 Districts and in the presence of the
District Coordination committees these development proposals were handed
over to the political authority of that area to be implemented,
Somaweera explained. According to him village level organisations like
the Janasabha, forwarded their program proposals of their respective
areas. The Grama Niladhari, Samurdhi officer of the village, work along
with these leaders of the Jana Sabha.
Totally 14,000 programs were approved by the Ministry following
discussions with the District Development Committees. With the
inauguration ceremony at Bandaragama electorate all these 14,000
development projects across the country were set afloat under the ‘one
work for one village’ program. This follows a long process of collecting
the proposals from village level which describes their choice of
development work, which will be of their highest priorities. “Road
development was with the heaviest demand. Work in minor irrigation
systems and drinking water facilities are next in line. These are
people’s choices,” Somaweera added.
Understanding the importance of the village unit, President Mahinda
Rajapaksa taking over Presidency for the first time in 2005, instructed
the Government to initiate a special program to uplift village
communities. Thus, the Gama Neguma (Village uplift) was started in 2006
on par with the Mahinda Chinthana. These projects also improved the
capacity of the regions to link with the mainstream of development.
These have a catalytic role in boosting commercial activities in the
villages thus making those communities a major contributor to national
economy. The new approach of the Gama Neguma will strengthen the
community participation in the rural development projects by pooling all
resources to be utilised in village development.
Gama Neguma was launched in 119 poorest villages and extended to
4,000 GN Divisions in 2007. In 2008 and 2009 it was implemented with the
exception of North and East and from 2010 the peaceful environment in
the country enabled the implementation of the program throughout the
“The newly appointed graduates incorporated into Government initiated
development programs will be assigned to monitor the implementation and
progress of these activities,” Somaweera explained. Accordingly, each
Grama Niladhari Division will have one such officer appointed. “As these
are mainly development programs which would cost a maximum of around Rs.
1 million, these can be completed within few months except the minor
irrigation works. As works on minor irrigation systems will be more
technical and in certain situations prevailing in the locality would
decide the implementation plan. For example, in certain areas the ‘wewa’
need to be free to supply water for the paddy cultivation if it is the
season,” he explained.
The village level organisations are responsible to implement the
programs. Planning and implementation is by the villagers and funds will
be sent to the Divisional Secretaries and the village organisation will
get the money for the program through the DS office. “A Treasury
Circular gives us (Government service) the guidlines to select such
village level organisation. It specifies by naming individual or
umbrella organizations that are active at present at the grass roots
level,” Somaweera explained.
Why a different approach?
“All these years the main focus of the development was the town – the
urban centre. These got all the facilities and the rural areas were much
neglected. “But it is in the village where goods are produced for the
consumption of the urban community,” he explained.
The Gama Neguma started in developing the infrastructure of the
villages at its inception to facilitate a continuous flow of goods to
better markets from the village benefitting the villager. According to
the Mahinda Chinthana, “To win the world, develop the country, to
develop the country strengthen the village.” Farmers are highly
benefited by facilitating the transportation of the agricultural inputs
and products with extended market options promoting their turnover.
Moreover, the road network development reduced the travelling
difficulties and resource waste. On the whole it has enhanced the
connectivity by exposure to a broader arena bringing about positive
changes and modifications in the socio-economic fabric.
The regional development is to promote equitable distribution of
fruits, vegetables, rice and other crops and many other products for the
local consumer market. “Government’s aim is to get maximum contribution
to the national economy through the more back-ward regions,” Somaweera
As he explained till recently the Western province contributed 50% to
the total National economy. Today it has come down to 45%.
“This doesn’t mean the Western Province has failed but it shows that
the other regions have started to contribute more and increase there
share in the national economy,” he explained. For example with the
Negenahira Navodaya program the entire Eastern Province has doubled its
contribution to the national economy with the Government’s projects
worth nearly Rs. 150 million.
We as a country aim at doubling the existing Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) number by 2016.
Thus the Government has implemented a special program to initiate
development work from 2010 till 2016.