Rathkerewwa: Summary of Findings

Research and Report Writing Team: D. G. K. M. Chandradasa, S. Nilukshi, A. G. K. K. Dissanayaka, W. N. P. Fernando, H. G. D. Chandani, C. P. M. Gunawardana, N. G. W. Kulasuriya, W. T. N. N. M. Polgolla, M. G. Madushani Amarasuriya

English Summary: Chamalie Gunawardana 

The 2010 Field Research Training Program for final year students specializing in Sociology was conducted in the Embilipitiya Divisional Secretariat. The aim of the training program was to provide a practical knowledge on how to conduct a research in a selected research field with prearranged research aims. Our research field was based at Rathkerewwa, one of the G.S. divisions in Embilipitiya Divisional Secretariat. As indicated by Grama Niladari reports of 2008, Rathkerewwa span over a land area of 5km² and has five villages- Kandaura, Dakunu Ela, Mudunmankada, Saifan Pedesa, and Udawalawa. Ratkerewwa is home to a population of approximately 6832 in 1600 families. According to statistics of 2008, the majority of this population is Sinhala Buddhist. Most of these families receive a monthly income less than 5000 rupees.

A discussion with villagersAccording to the information recorded in the official documentation of Rathkerawwa, the majority (762 persons) is employed in the agricultural sector. The number of people employed in private and government sectors are respectively 605 and 136. Rathkerewwa has one health centre and a child and maternal clinic. There are about six community centers, two cemeteries and two playgrounds in the village.

Within a limited timeframe of three days, we could only conduct our research in the Mudunmankada village of the Rathkerawwa G.S. division. Our attempt, here, is to provide a brief description of what we learnt about Rathkerewwa during this short period.

On the first day, we conducted a household survey using a structured questionnaire. We not only collected important data through this exercise, but also built up a good rapport with the participants. According to the general findings gathered from the studied community, most of the Mudunmankada residents travel to the Embilipitiya town for various services. What we could basically notice at Mudunmankada was they had   single storey houses. Many houses are still under construction and a lot of houses had basic equipments like televisions, refrigerators, and radios. The household survey helped us to understand that most of the villagers of Mudunmankada lived with their nuclear families.

According to prior information we received, Rathkerawwa was a resettlement village under the Uda Walawe Irrigation and Resettlement Project (UWIRP). However after we started to gather data using the questionnaire it was evident that the majority of Mudunmankada villagers were illegal settlers. Most of them are squatters who have built their own houses on conserved lands (රක්ෂිත ඉඩම්). As Punchihewa (1985) indicates, legal migration as well as illegal migration took place as a result of the UWIRP. Since the majority of the Mudunmankada people are not legally settled there under UWIRP, they have not received highlands or paddy lands from the government. Therefore, according to participants, a considerable number Mudunmankada villagers have given up agriculture and are engaged in government jobs while others are self-employed and manage small businesses like manufacturing bricks.Rathkerewwa research team

We also planned to gather data on youth, their integration to the community and related issues. What we could find, basically, was that there were not many youth and community integration-related problems in the village. We were told by some Mudunmankada villagers that local youth maintained good interpersonal relationships with their peers as well as with others. A prominent fact about the youth was that most of them had no higher education. Although many have sat the Advanced Level examination, the majority has failed. Some of the youth who were employed were not satisfied with their jobs since they did not have permanent jobs. The male as well as female youth to whom we spoke preferred love marriages to arranged marriages, and they did not approve of pre-marital sexual behaviors.

Drawing a complete picture of Mudunmankada based on our three-day study is anyhow impossible. However, through our survey questionnaire, focus group interviews, in-depth interviews and observations, we were able to get a basic idea about livelihoods, family structure, youth and community integration, as well as the people’s day-to-day lifestyle in the village of Mudunmankada.

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