DeterMined

Puthukudiyiruppu, June 2013. Photograph by Seshanka Samarajiwa When the war finally concluded in 2009 it was estimated that as many as one million landmines and items of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) remained as a deadly legacy of the conflict. Based on surveys conducted after the war a total of 2.065 km2 of land was designated as Confirmed Hazardous Areas. This feature explores the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in the day to day operations of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), an international mine action agency deployed in Sri Lanka. The location is Puthukudiyiruppu township in Mullaitivu District of Northern Sri …

ICTs and Economic Empowerment

Weerakodiyana village, Udabaddawa, August 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha Constantly pulling out our phone to check-in on Foursquare or flipping open our tab to send that urgent email, we sometimes forget that it is not just the urbanised ‘city folk’ that are finding mobile technologies transformative in their lives. This feature takes a look at how different types of mobile devices – from basic phones to Android tabs – are being used by different groups of people across Sri Lanka for new and meaningful purposes that would have been unheard of thirty years ago. Farmers in the middle of a …

Early Warning: ICTs and Disaster Management

Negombo. July 2013. Photograph by Muradh Mohideen The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was a turning point in Sri Lanka. Devastating nearly two-thirds of the country’s coastal region, it claimed over 35,000 lives, and displaced another 500,000. The South, North, East and West were all affecting, in varying degrees. The tsunami also led to a critical turning point in the relationship between the government and the LTTE, with the political acrimony that surrounded the proposed relief sharing mechanism, the P-TOMS. Since then, Sri Lanka has taken disaster management a lot more seriously, with the government, supported by international agencies, putting in …

ICTs and Youth Aspirations

Udabaddawa, August 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha From factory bench to computer chair, the job aspirations of Sri Lanka’s youth are changing rapidly. In the 1980s, following the liberalisation of the economy and limited industrialisation that came with it (particularly in the hundreds of ready-made garment factories), the country’s youth saw manufacturing sector work as the path to prosperity. Thirty years on, gaining upward social mobility necessarily means, in the minds of many young people, getting a service sector job – an officer in a government department, a sales assistant in a retail outlet, and of course, a computer whiz …

Bringing Government Closer to the People

Thimbirigasyaya Divisional Secretariat, Colombo, July 2013. Photograph by Anushka Wijesinha The idea of ‘bringing government closer to the people’ can have many connotations. In contemporary Sri Lanka what jumps to mind first is the debate on decentralisation and the 13th Amendment. Thirty years ago, inter alia, the government was woefully inadequate in providing people with basic services at a critical time of need. Ten years ago, obtaining any kind of service from a Government department meant long queues and longer waits – all this adding to dissatisfaction and disengagement by the public with government related matters and services. This feature, …

How ICTs Are Changing Sri Lanka

Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) are undoubtedly becoming a defining transformation of our time. Through over 80 photographs in 8 features produced for the Groundviews ’30 Years Ago’ project, The Picture Press explores how ICTs have changed Sri Lanka’s current context and how it relates to issues that have, and continue to, influence our society and the nation at large. By combining original photography and well-researched narratives, these features visually narrate the influence of ICTs on individuals and groups at national, regional and local levels across Sri Lanka, presented through various lenses – social integration, safety and security, connectivity and ‘closeness’ …

ICTs in post-war Sri Lanka

Puthukuduyiruppu, June 2013. Photograph by Aamina Nizar ICT in post war Sri Lanka explores the use of information and communication technologies by people living in the North and East. Over the last few years infrastructure and connectivity in the North and East have rapidly developed. While there is still no electricity in some parts of the North and East, billboards of all network service providers dot the landscape, internet cafes and mobile/computer repair shops are common in towns in both Provinces. This feature highlights unique use of ICTs in these areas by ordinary people rebuilding their lives after the 30 …

The Absence of Technology?

Meemure, June 2013. Photograph by Aamina Nizar Many of us take connectivity for granted – we have our mobile phone at hand at all times, we stress when there is no 3G coverage, when the internet is slow, or when bad weather affects the TV show we are watching. Meanwhile, there are people in parts of Sri Lanka for whom connectivity is a luxury not a basic need, an occasional choice rather than an integral part of their daily lives. This is sometimes because of a lack of interest or relevance to them and their work, a lack of availability …

Helplines in Sri Lanka

Equal Ground, Colombo, July 2013. Photograph by Aamina Nizar Decades of war, natural disasters, poverty, unemployment, inequality, changes in values and lifestyles, combined with misinterpretations of mental health and its causes and effects have left large segments of society stigmatised and isolated. It is a fact that a strong support system, including emotional support, is intrinsic to the recovery or rehabilitation of an individual suffering from any form of mental disease – temporary or permanent. Mental diseases are treatable and life goes on in spite of it. Identities are often mistaken as mental diseases. Sri Lanka’s helplines are providing a …