I came across the attached article on the BBC website about a problem in New Zealand, where due to various factors, which include an ageing population, and the natural drift of youth to big cities, that rural New Zealand, has HOMES, JOBS but NO TAKERS. In short some villages are simply dying of OLD AGE. When the owner of a local shop dies, the shop closes for lack of takers, and that village just loses that particular outlet!
Contrast this with Sri Lankan villages of comparable size, like the village I live in Ratmale, Minneriya. It too has about 100 households, and about 400 residents, and it too is dying. Young people leave the village, forsaking farming work, for jobs with better opportunities in Cities, and when they are better educated, like those who are University Graduates, go for other fields such as Teaching, and ALSO move out of their home villages to other areas. Some work in the Middle East.
All the residents of this village own their own homes. None have mortgages to pay, some however have borrowed money to renovate their homes, and have a monthly payment to make to cover their interest and capital repayments. Recently, 5 new houses were built with Govt. assistance for people who were homeless, at the edge of the village on Government land, which really was forest land, being encroached by the Government to provide land for housing.
Many homes are too big for the residents, as the family have left, leaving ageing parents only. People tend to want to build big even in villages, without any concern for the fact that the bigger the place, the more time and cost of the maintenance!
I would like one day, if time and energy permits, to do a study of ALL residents of this village, map their inter-relationships, employment, family details, and property ownership, and income levels, to analyze ITS STRUCTURE and longevity, so as to come up with proposals for fulfilling desires, preserving its ecology, and enhancing agricultural productivity, without encroaching any further on surrounding forests, and in fact regenerate the national forest, and adjoining National Parks, while adding vibrancy to the village, by encouraging youth to return and take jobs in the vicinity in Tourism, Wild Life Conservation, Agriculture, Local Produce, such as Bees Honey, the latter that has almost disappeared with the logging of trees in which honey bees thrived.
With Urbanization, we have NOT got to the stage as in NZ where there are NO people to even take the jobs that exist in the villages, but if this urban drift is NOT arrested, that will be the inevitable outcome, and that is why I am against any further encroachment by the State, which owns all the land in these parts, on forest, or shrub jungle for housing, and instead manage the existing housing stock, by permitting disposals with titles, releasing funds for people's labor mobility, an essential requirement for growth. All these people live in ranchettes, with home gardens, that the urban dweller can only dream of!
If the Education system is better, it will prevent families sending their offspring to relatives, say in Gampaha to go to school from there, merely because they believe the education they get in those districts is simply far superior, and will give them a leg up in life.