Post War Resettlement of Women IDPs

Post-war resettlement of women IDP’s in northern Sri Lanka: lessons learned, gaps, and road map for success

CHA and the Harvard School of Public Health (HHI) came together to focus on post war resettlement of women in the district of Vavuniya. The project’s objective was to determine the lessons learned from the resettlement process in the Northern Province and assess the existing economic and social post-resettlement challenges that affect women. The research will focus on assessing the two areas of human security. The first is freedom from want and fear. The second is economic security including livelihoods and use of support services. The project’s qualitative research included interviews and analysis of secondary sources. It reflected on women’s economic and human security and their ability to regain a life of dignity.

The quantitative research involved a random sample survey of 250 female headed households conducted in four of Vavuniya’s Divisional Secretariat (DS) namely Vavuniya North, Vavuniya South, Chettikulum and Vavuniya Town. The districts focused on were selected due the presence of all four communities and those affected/ not affected by conflict.

Field research was conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Women Development and Children’s Affairs, the Women’s Bureau and the Vavuniya District secretariat in 2014. Data across various sources were not always consistent and often exhibited gaps. Hence the survey was redone in May/June 2015 with the inclusion of security questions omitted in the previous survey. The sample consisted of 198 respondents who were females and were mostly heads of their households (79.2% of the entire survey sample), and 52 of the respondents were the control group of males who were mostly heads their households (20.8% of the entire survey sample). Electronic tablets with the KoBo Toolbox data collection software were used for the survey data collection and analysis as well.

Focus group discussions with female headed households, CBOs working with women affected by conflict, local government officials enabled much information. Further key group discussion were held with Presidential secretariat- officials leading the LLRC process, Representatives of Ministry of resettlement reconstruction and Hindu religious affairs, Resettlement authority, The former Ministries of women Development and Children’s affairs, the women’s bureau, local government officials, the commission of inquiry on disappearances and other stakeholders.

The program developed four research papers based on both qualitative and quantitative findings, namely:

  1. Physical security concerns for resettled women-headed households in Vavuniya
  2. Supporting women in resettlement with a gender sensitive Development agenda
  3. The End of Displacement for women in resettlement in Sri Lanka
  4. Comparative Paper: Displacement and resettlement in the Philippines, Uganda, and Sri Lanka

Paper Topics:

  • Comparative Paper: Displacement and Resettlement in the Philippines, Uganda, and Sri Lanka Bharathi Rajakrishnan (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative)
  • Comparative (Sri Lanka and rest of the world) analysis of Women Headed Households, Resettlement and  Rehabilitation -Phoung Pham (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative)
  • Supporting women in resettlement with a gender-sensitive development agenda – Jeevan Thiagarajah
  • End of Displacement for women in resettlement – Dhanya Ratnavale

Research papers are available on request. Interested parties may contact us via