An Anthropological Study of Rural Poverty in Sri Lanka and the Functioning of the Samurdhi Project


  • K. M. S. Samarasekara Department of Anthropology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka
  • W. M. K. Sandarenu Department of Anthropology, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka


Poverty in Sri Lanka (especially in rural areas) is a problem to the development of the country. Although various projects have been implemented to alleviate poverty, no significant progress has been made by such development projects. Samurdhi project is one of the national development projects introduced by the government to eradicate poverty. The research intends to study, how people suffering from poverty and make it as a part of their lives instead of introducing solution to minimize the poverty and to identify the new state of living which creats through it. Out of 153 Samurdhi beneficiary families in the 70/B Ambadandegama Grama Niladhari Division, Bandarawela Divisional Secretariat in the Badulla District, 30 family units were selected under the judgmental sampling method through an interview schedule as a data collection method. Poverty has been assigned as a culture is the main elicited fact of this research. Poverty has affected many aspects of their daily lives and they have inherited the cultural characteristics of poverty such as they do not planning their life style and economic activities or any other activities, excessive borrowing like 93% of the total suffer from debt, expecting further relief from the government and blaming them when relief is not forthcoming. Moreover, in order to continue receiving government subsidies, poverty is maintained and continued living with poverty without seeking for a solution. It is the culture of poverty. Therefore, Samurdhi project can be identified as a failed development project which introduced to eradicate rural poverty as a result of not accomplishing an effective impact towards the eradication of rural poverty. However, before implementing a development project, it is needed to pay attention on socio – cultural factors of the community and a planning with a proper understanding will be beneficial to make the development projects successful.