Centre for Policy Alternatives on 17 January, 2014

Call for crowd funding: Support CPA’s work in Sri Lanka

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17 January 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka: At the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), we change the way citizens perceive and engage with governance. Established in 1996, CPA has over 17 years set the bar for how cutting-edge research and advocacy can address the deficit in democracy and governance through constructive dialogue, bold and innovative content, otherwise marginalized or forgotten.

We need your help.

CPA is a relatively small team of fewer than 50 staff, including those in administration, working across 4 key units in 2 offices, both located in Colombo. We do a lot of work, from measures to address corruption to election monitoring, from international award-winning civic media initiatives to grassroots capacity building across Sri Lanka, from social polling to field-based and applied research. CPA, more than any other civil society organisation and even beyond mainstream media in Sri Lanka, designs and leverages cutting-edge online and web tools to strengthen and promote its advocacy. Our public interest litigation encompasses cases on fundamental rights as well as pre-enactment judicial review, and has provided relief to thousands of plaintiffs over language rights, land issues, human rights violations, election malpractices, displacement, the freedom of movement and much more. CPA’s social polling provides unique and vast socio-economic datasets and analysis for the whole of Sri Lanka. Our research and advocacy on constitutional reform, power-sharing arrangements to resolve the ethnic conflict and on human rights protection, has been highly commended nationally and internationally.

Senior staff are regularly quoted in mainstream media, both locally and internationally, for their expertise and insights. Institutional output, in print and online in all three languages, is regularly flagged and used in debates around policy-making. Because of its profile, CPA is often the subject of hate-speech, with key staff regularly and publicly vilified. And yet, particularly in a country where even post-war, peaceful dissent, critical thinking and alternate political perspectives are violently censored and clamped down upon, what CPA does, represents and provides a space for, is absolutely vital to Sri Lanka’s democratic future.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President & Chief Executive of the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi notes that “… CPA has also rigorously pursued research into many of the most pressing issues of our time. Such organisations need to be supported. They are a necessary part of a vibrant democracy, an eco system that values knowledge, and the exercise of public reason.”

Edward Mortimer, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Advocacy Campaign notes that, “CPA is quite simply the most outspoken, credible, and fair-minded civil society group in Sri Lanka”. He goes on to say that, “without the CPA there would be virtually no independent and credible domestic critique of the Sri Lanka Government’s authoritarianism and other excesses”.

Chandra Jayaratne, Sri Lankan of the Year in 2001 and Former Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce sees CPA as an organisation that ensures “strict benchmarks for assessment of the outcomes, delivery of promises and efficient, effective and professional management of resources optimizing quality and productivity”.

As Richard L. Armitage, former US Deputy Secretary of State avers, “Sri Lanka has been at relative peace for nearly five years. Yet, in that time, the nation has not taken sufficient steps to build effective democratic institutions or strengthen the role of civil society. Without such progress, the promise of peace may never be fully realised in Sri Lanka. That is why the Centre for Policy Alternatives’ work is so vital and deserves the support of everyone who cares about the people of Sri Lanka”.

Bob Rae, a former Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Premier of Ontario, endorsing this call, calls CPA “… a small, effective, dedicated group of people who believe deeply in a plural, diverse, democratic Sri Lanka, and who believe courageously in public policy based on facts”.

Cheryl Saunders, Laureate Professor at the Melbourne Law School calls CPA “… an extraordinarily important institution, in Sri Lanka and internationally. It offers a combination of forward thinking, balance and genuine expertise that is all too rare”.

Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi notes, “The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)… has in the last decade… taken the lead, in hostile circumstances, against the culture of impunity and continuing human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Its impressive record in this respect has to be sustained and supported.”

Deshamanya Bradman Weerakoon, who was a founder director of the organization notes, “The work that the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) has done over the years in shining a light on the many areas of State action that need to be corrected has thereby received the highest commendation… As a founding father of the institution and a long time Board Director I am intimately aware of its capacity and potential. What it needs most at this critical time in our country’s journey is funding and resources to accomplish its tasks. Of determination and courage to do so it has no shortage.”

Despite this reputation, the most pressing challenge for CPA today is donor fatigue and disengagement. With Sri Lanka as a middle-income country on paper and competing donor agendas in mediagenic contexts like Syria, Afghanistan, Burma and Nepal, Sri Lanka’s enduring need for civil society research and advocacy to be supported is in grave danger of being significantly deprioritised, even forgotten. This is not a temporary glitch. Institutional funding will, for a range of reasons, be increasingly scarce.

In order to expand its donor base, CPA is exploring the possibility of raising endowment funds from well-wishers, both locally and internationally. This crowd-sourced funding approach will help CPA to maintain its independence and support its entire portfolio of research and advocacy, which currently risks rapid constriction. CPA encourages donations around the following broad denominations,

US$ 2,000 (one-off donation)
US$ 500 (per annum)
US$ 25 (monthly)

Donations outside of these denominations are also welcome. Please send your donation to:

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.
HSBC Main Branch,
No. 24, Sir Baron Jayathilaka Mawatha,
Colombo- 01,
Sri Lanka.

Account Name: CENTRE FOR POLICY ALTERNATIVES – Crowd Sourcing Fund
Account Number: 001 170 463 013
Bank Code: 7092

Contact CPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu on [email protected] for more information. As a legally registered entity in Sri Lanka, CPA has undertaken, since inception, an independent annual audit which is published on its website. CPA also publishes its Executive Director’s report every year, flagging institutional output and impact.

The success of this effort to support CPA’s on-going institutional expenses rests entirely on you. Please contribute generously and pass this appeal along to those who want to see CPA continue to champion and bring about a Sri Lanka where anyone, anywhere is able to live in dignity, and without fear.

Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu
Executive Director