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Wednesday, 20 January 2016 16:23

RIID Project Promotes Trust Between Different

Phase Two of NPC’s Reconciling Inter-religious and Inter-ethnic Differences (RIID) project was completed, resulting in the strengthening of nine District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) in Matara, Jaffna, Mannar, Puttalam, Kandy, NuwaraEliya, Galle, Ampara and Batticaloa. They were capacitated to address different issues that could threaten inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony in their districts, building on lessons learned during Phase I. The projected is funded by USAID through its SPICE project.

The multi-ethnic and multi-religious memberships of the DIRCs have developed a degree of trust and commitment that addressed polarisation between communities experienced since the end of the war. Through various capacity building training programmes and interactive engagement activities, DIRCs have improved their knowledge and skills enough to respect other religions and ethnicities. They have also worked together to pass on this change of attitude to the society they lived in.As in Phase I, Phase II was also implemented by NPC with selected partner organisations that collaborated with DIRCs at the district level.

Throughout the project, members of DIRCs and partner organisations were able to experience, appreciate and address inter-religious and inter-ethnic harmony through many activities. They included knowledge on and involvement in inter-religious and inter-ethnic activities, and collaboration and dialogue at the district level. The DIRCs organised events that saw the involvement of all religious groups in each other’s religious activities.

The DIRCs created a forum for discussions to diffuse points of possible tension and stop individual issues from becoming larger issues as a result of racially biased elements in society.
At the end of the 13-month period, one of the most significant changes observed among the target beneficiary group was the level of trust developed between members of DIRCs and a significant improvement in their ability to work together as a multi-religious and multi-ethnic group.

During the project period, DIRCs identified and prioritized 22 issues that had potential to flare up into full scale hostilities, and intervened to find solutions for them and completely solved five issues while partly solving one problem. There are 11 issues for which the DIRCs are attempting to bring solutions. Those issues were addressed and dealt with in a manner that promoted healing of relationships, and the relevant DIRC is continuing to monitor them to avoid incidents of reoccurrence.