Research & Survey Unit

The Research and Survey Unit is one of the main divisions within SPARC. The Unit was established in 2005 to undertake research studies on Socio-Economic Security and Social Policy in Sri Lanka. The unit aims to build up a resource group of multidisciplinary academics within the University to undertake applied studies to support policy formulation and project implementation.


To support evidence-based social policy formulation and programming to link academic research with critical development issues in Sri Lanka.

On going Projects 

♦ Pilot Citizen Report Card on  Local Government Services in Sri Lanka

Funding partner: The Asia Foundation in Sri Lanka

Stakeholders: Municipal Council, Nuwara Eliya/ Urban Council, Vavuniya

The Citizen Report Card (CRC) is a simple and credible tool to provide systematic feedback to public agencies about various quantitative and qualitative aspects of their performance. CRCs elicit information about users’ awareness of, access to, use of, and satisfaction with public services. CRCs identify the key constraints citizens, especially the poor and the underserved face in accessing public services, their appraisals of the quality and adequacy of public services and the quality of interactions they have with the providers of the services. CRC offers several recommendations on sector policies, strategies and programmes to address these constraints and improve service delivery. Citizen Report Cards entail a random sample survey of the users of different public services (utilities), and the aggregation of the users’ experiences as a basis for rating the services. CRCs also help to convert individual problems facing the various programmes into common sectoral issues. It facilitates prioritization of reforms and corrective actions by drawing attention to the worst problems highlighted. CRCs also facilitate cross fertilization of ideas and approaches by identifying good practices.

The concept of CRC broadly falls within the strengthening of Social Accountability in the Local Government System and the proposed pilot project in Sri Lanka exercise will cover five general categories of services provided by the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council.

a) Local Roads (maintained by the respective councils)

b) Preventive Health Services

c) Environmental Sanitation

d) Street Lighting

e)  Recreational Facilities (maintained by the respective councils)

Two of other special services provided by local authorities have also been included.

f) Building Permits

g) Trade Licences

The total sample selected for this assignment for each selected Local Authority Area are as follows:

♦ General Households        -450

♦ Trade licences                   -100

♦ Building Permit                 -100

Progress (as at 17 April 2012)

The project has come to its final stage. Reports for Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council and Vavuniya Urban Council have been developed and soft versions of the draft reports have been shared with The Asia Foundation (TAF), which is the funding agency.

Preliminary findings of the project have been presented before the council members and staffs of the respective Councils. The officials attached to the councils were fully agreeing on the quantification of the issues pertaining to beneficiary satisfaction on the services (garbage collection, street lighting, roadways, drainage/ sewerage, public amenities, provision of trade licenses, provision of building permits) provided through the Councils.

Next steps of the project are to finalize the final report, to design a module to train media personnel to interpret findings of the project in a usable manner, draft lessons learned and to see the possibility of replicating the project in other selected Municipal and Urban Council areas.

In addition, SPARC is also seeing the importance of promoting the concept of using report cards to quantify user feedback and satisfaction on services. For this purpose, the possibility of introducing the concept to postgraduate courses offered through the university is being discussed.

It is anticipated that the project will conclude by end, June 2012.

♦ Reintegration with the Home Community- Perspective on the Lives of Returnee Migrant Workers

Funding partner: International Labour Office

Sri Lanka National Policy on Migration identifies re-integration of returnee workers as one of its key objectives. On the other hand, a national policy on reintegration of migrant workers is yet to be spelled out and adopted. It is in view of this persisting gap that the present study has been envisaged in order to prepare the ground for the development of such a policy.

Objectives of the Study have been identified as follows. 

♦ Supporting the state to develop and implement a comprehensive return and reintegration plan for migrant workers.

♦ Provide support services to return migrant workers, in order to develop a reintegration policy.

♦ Comprehensive data on return migrants essential to understand their needs and aspirations.

♦ Understand the impact of migration on migrants as well as impact on the families.


As regards the sample, 2000 returnee migrants will be randomly selected, as it will help the researchers to generalize their findings to the total population of returnee migrant workers. The sample will be drawn from 15 districts with higher percentages of migrants. From each district, two DS divisions with the highest number of migrant workers will be selected for the sample.

The main instrument of data collection for the study will be the pre-coded structured interview schedule. It will help to collect quantifiable data required for a detailed analysis of the demographic and socio-economic profile of the sample population and other aspects of migration.

Data analysis will be both quantitative and qualitative. SPSS will be used for data entry as well as data analysis. Quantitative analysis will be done at macro as well as disaggregated levels such as district, province, urban rural as well as sector. Cross tabulations will also be done where necessary in order to explain important inter-connections between variable. GIS maps will also be developed to show significant spatial distributions. This approach is expected to provide a comprehensive picture of the present situation of returnee migrant workers and will help to formulate detailed policy guidelines.

Progress (as at 17 April 2012) 

Pre data collection phase: Questionnaire development was done collectively with the inputs of the Principal investigator, Co investigators, Project coordinator, data analyst and was approved by the International Labour Office, Colombo. A few questions were added to the questionnaire as requested by the ILO to capture the victims of human trafficking. Pre testing of the questionnaire was done in Piliyandala, Gampaha, Nugegoda and Galle before finalization.

Data collection phase: The task of the field data collection is to complete 2000 filled questionnaires from the Districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Ratnapura, Kegalla, Kandy, Matale, Badulla, Ampara, Batticaloa, Anuradhapura, Kurunegala, Puttlam covering two Divisional Secretariat Divisions from each District.

Data collection was planned to be carried out within the months of March and April 2012. Data collection is currently being carried out. The desired number of filled Tamil questionnaires (350) has been handed over for data entry and analysis. Field work pertaining to the Sinhala questionnaires will come to an end before end April 2012. 1100 Sinhala medium questionnaires have been handed over for data entry and analysis.

Data Analysis: Data analysis will take place within the month of May 2012 where data will be presented in the form of tables and cross tabulations.
Report writing: Report writing will be carried out and finalized by end June 2012. Report writing will be done collectively through the analysis of data in tabular form.

Upcoming Projects

♦ Nature and extent of human trafficking among the migrant workers in Sri Lanka Funding partner: International Labour Office

Human trafficking has been existence since the medieval societies and later as slave labour throughout the history of mankind. This phenomenon of human trafficking has not ceased to exist even during the modern day. In fact it has aggravated and all forms of human trafficking including forced labour, sexual exploitation and even organ removal have become extremely important issues. Human trafficking takes place within localities, within countries as well as across boarders. Usually it is seen that human trafficking is currently done through international networks of organized crime gangs that could even influence systems of the countries, their legal systems and law enforcement systems. Developing countries in which systems are more flexible and can be influenced are more prone for off shore trafficking. In addition, persons to be trafficked, or the supply end population is abundantly available in the developing countries due to wide spread economically marginalized populations and individuals who could be forced, coerced or deceived to become victims of the organized international trafficking rigs.

Sri Lanka is no different from the rest of the developing countries. People from Sri Lanka are abundantly trafficked into other countries including the Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries. While some of them are trafficked illegally, a majority is trafficked using the loopholes within the established and accepted systems and procedures concerning immigration, emigration and labour migration.

The extent and nature of foreign employment has increased several fold since the mid 1970s and foreign remittances through the exported labour has become one of the major contributors for the GNP and foreign employment has been attracting blessings of subsequent governments.

Sri Lanka’s migration pattern shows that a majority of migrant workers continue to be from the poorer and vulnerable groups in the urban and rural areas. In fact, international labour migration is a major socio-economic phenomenon in all parts of the country and not just confined to a few focal areas of the country.

From a point of view of foreign earnings, it has been a success, but the social cost of foreign employment has been immense. The people anticipating jobs overseas that mostly consist of poorer strata of the society are abundantly tricked and trafficked for forced labour, prostitution, sexual exploitation. Recent reports appeared in news on organ removal of a foreign employed worker from Sri Lanka could just be the tip of an iceberg requiring many national and international level interventions to mitigate human trafficking.

Therefore, it is important to broadly study the phenomena of human trafficking at the ground level as well as at the national scale to identify policy alterations that are required to mitigate human trafficking.

Objectives of the Study have been identified as follows.

♦ Supporting the state to develop a comprehensive plan to mitigate human trafficking disguised in the form of migrant workers.

♦ Providing support services to returnee trafficked persons through the reintegration policy.

♦ Compiling comprehensive data on the victims of human trafficking through return migrants essential to understand their needs and aspirations.

♦ Understand the impact of human trafficking on migrants as well as impact on the families.

Research Methodology

As regards the original sample, 2000 returnee migrants will be randomly selected, as it will help the researchers to generalize their findings to the total population of returnee migrant workers. The sample will be drawn from 15 districts with higher percentages of migrants. From each district, two DS divisions with the highest number of migrant workers will be selected for the sample. From each of the DS division selected, two GN divisions will be selected to draw the sample of migrant workers for face to face interviews.

The sample for the proposed survey on the victims of human trafficking will be screened through a few direct questions defining human trafficking. The persons who are categorized as trafficked will subsequently be interviewed using a questionnaire. Therefore the final sample for the proposed human trafficking study will also be proportionally representative throughout the Districts considered.

Though not certain, it is anticipated that there would be around 300 individuals out of the total sample of 2,000 (15% of the returnee migrant workers) who could be categorized for the subsequent survey. Even though a 15% of the total sample of 2000 returnee migrant workers is anticipated to be considered for the survey on human trafficking, the numbers could vary across Districts due to the nature and extent of human trafficking in the considered Districts and Divisional Secretariat Divisions.