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New homes for tea plantation workers in Sri Lanka

Thursday, 16 Jul 2015

“I moved into our living room with my wife when I got married,” says 30 year old Wilson who comes from a tea-plucker family. He has all his life shared one small bedroom with his parents, two brothers and sister. “It was very difficult for us growing up. I don’t want my child to go through the same difficulties we did.”

There are several thousands of other such families in the tea plantation sector in Sri Lanka, in the very same predicament. When tea production first took to the central hills of the island in the early 19th century, thousands of Indian immigrants were brought in to the country to meet the need for cheap labour. They were given ‘line-rooms’ – linearly attached houses, each with only a small living room, bedroom and kitchen-space. Although a house was able to accommodate a couple when handed over, no alternative has been provided for over a hundred years. Today, up to eight or more family members occupy the one bedroom in a house.

VisionFund is now working with World Vision to help these communities. Whilst the land was provided by a plantation company, World Vision facilitated the construction of the houses up to roof level and provided purified water and toilet facilities through its RIWASH (Rural Integrated Water Sanitation and Hygiene) Project. VisionFund provided small loans for the roofing of the houses so that recipients feel a true sense of ownership and it’s more than a house freely received. The community themselves pitched in with labour for the initial clearing of land.

As a start, 24 new houses were built. 24 families moving into new homes means a less cramped environment for the nearly 60 families that lived in the 24 line-rooms that they moved out of. A small number, but it’s a start. This was the first phase of the project; completed in 2014, and the second-phase to build another set of houses is now under way.

Our five-year strategy: to impact 9m children a year by 2019. The children of 24 families were impacted by this project and, as the community grows and sustains itself, more children will benefit. 

One of our key strategic aims is, to improve the resilience and livelihoods of families in rural, agricultural communities where we work. These communities are at the core of the Partnership footprint and other financial providers find them too costly to serve.

Our measure is, that over 60% of our clients will be in agriculture and demonstrate improved livelihoods through PPI* measures and improved child wellbeing through CWBOs* and other measures.


*Progress out of Poverty Index (PPI) is a measure with which VisionFund evaluates the poverty levels of new borrowers and after a period of time the impact of the loan by re-evaluation.

CWBO (Child Wellbeing Outcomes): a measure used by World Vision to evaluate the impact of efforts made towards child-focused transformational development