|dc.description.abstract||The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka represented a major threat to the livelihoods of all people in the country and especially those in the conflict zones. Conflict-related violence was not limited to Sinhalese and Tamils; there were also sporadic clashes among Tamil militant groups and between Tamil and Muslim civilians. Based on fieldwork in six case study villages in conflict zones of Ampara District in eastern Sri Lanka between 2007 and 2010, the thesis analyses the access to livelihood assets, causes and dynamics of livelihood activities and strategies of households in different ethnic groups mainly focusing on the different opportunities and constraints faced by them when making their livelihoods in the context of conflict. The thesis is intended to achieve this through addresses the following research questions: How do different households access and make use of assets? What are the impacts of conflict on households’ livelihood activities? What type of livelihood strategies are formulated by different households in situations of conflict? How can the dynamics of livelihoods in a conflict setting be incorporated into sustainable livelihood framework?
The research used a qualitative methodology, whereby in-depth interviews, life histories, key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and observations enabled the livelihood experiences of those living in the study areas to be captured. The information has been organized into manageable categories using the DFID’s sustainable rural livelihoods framework with modifications to fit the research complexities. The key dynamic processes of the livelihood systems are identified and discussed based on the framework.
The study demonstrates that households’ livelihoods were inextricably linked with the conflict. The different elements of households’ livelihoods were affected both directly and indirectly through the conflict’s impact on livelihood entitlement, people’s lives, and creating new forms of social inequality. Conversely, the livelihood changes which households made were a cause of further conflict. Furthermore, conflict changed households’ priorities.
The impact of the conflict on access to livelihood assets and activities varied according to households’ ethnic group, socio-economic status, location of residence, relations with political and military power holders, and relationships with people living in non-conflict zones in both in Sri Lanka and abroad. The conflict situation forced many people from all three ethnic groups, although relatively more Tamils, to abandon their traditional resources and livelihood activities in order to search for alternative forms. The findings also indicate that although most of the households were losers in the conflict, there were a few winners, even at the micro level.
In terms of theory, the livelihood framework adopted in the study contributes to an understanding of how a livelihoods approach to the impact of conflict can be analysed comprehensively and by incorporating the different phases of the conflict. The research revealed that various livelihood strategies were used by households classified as survival, coping, and adaptation. One remarkable finding is that a given strategy was used for different purposes, which in turn were categorized based on ethnic groups. Further, the reasons behind using certain strategies differed according to people’s socio-economic status and their political affiliations||nb_NO