India: Post-tsunami - Central Recovery Resource Centre being set up in Chennai

Background note

The transition from relief to rehabilitation in Tsunami affected states of India deserves very special attention as it involves the protection of the most vulnerable segments of the displaced population. There is a dire need for designing an adaptive reconstruction process that reduces vulnerability and increases resilience to specific local multi-hazards. This is an ideal opportunity to accelerate the development process, at the district, state and national level and focus on the main issue of co-ordination.

Central Recovery Resource Centre - a joint initiative

To meet this need a Central Recovery Resource Centre is being set up in Chennai as a joint initiative of the UN Recovery Team and NGOs. It aims to complement GoTN efforts and support recovery planning in Tamil Nadu. The Central Recovery Resource Centre will function in a transparent and accountable manner and will be steered by an Advisory Board, chaired by UNDP, comprising five of the major contributing organizations/donors plus invitees from the GoTN, the civil society and the private sector. In addition to UNDP, NGOs like Oxfam, Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International, Catholic Relief Services, Caritas India and Christian Aid have pledged financial resources for the project.

Salient features

Apart from supporting coordination and planning post-tsunami recovery some important features of the Central Resource Centre in Chennai, would be:

- Provision of information on research; legislation; code of conduct; training on minimum standards; updated government/NGO/multilateral and bilateral agency activity maps; data collection and needs assessments. It will organize events/workshops for dissemination of technology/best practices/recommended approaches as well as provide information on HIV/AIDS and Gender issues.

- Acting as a forum for exchanging information among the government, NGOs, donors, private sector and the UN with the help of a website, newsletters, mapping services, physical and virtual libraries. Information would be culled from all relevant sources, such as the government rehabilitation agencies, NGO networks, bilateral donors, etc.

- Capacity building of recovery stakeholders to enhance their capabilities for planning and implementing appropriate recovery measures.

- Direct connection to designated district resource centres (e.g., Nagappattinam, Cuddalore, Kanyakumari) that would have to be similarly supported for their proper establishment and functioning. It will also be linked to national and international networks in order to capture and disseminate relevant information.

- A web-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solution, designed and deployed with UNDP support that will merge the needs, resources and potential partnerships with fast-tracked, equitable and transparent provision of a variety of rehabilitation packages catering to affected individuals, households, specific vulnerable groups and community units. Onus would be on the Department of Revenue Administration and Disaster Management & Mitigation, to ensure effective partnership with other departments at the state, district and block level; institutions of local governance such as the panchayats and municipalities and non-governmental agencies collaborating the recovery efforts. It is proposed that this web-based ICT solution will be connected to the Central Resource Centre, as a main information provider for all stakeholders.

UNDP, on behalf of the UN Recovery Group, has been facilitating consultations with national and international NGOs to launch this process. Partnerships between NGOs and UNDP are being built to generate funding to ensure the sustainability of the resource centre and self-governance.


- The Resource Centre will organize regular coordination meetings to share pertinent information and focus on quality/equity issues. These meetings will encourage information sharing in sectoral areas, and allocate responsibilities collectively to fill any gaps identified. These meetings would be well focused and permanent liaison with the Government of Tamil Nadu will further ensure that coordination mechanisms complement the efforts deployed by the authorities.

- The Chennai Resource centre will provide mapping services to support coordination of stakeholders. In addition to collection of information from local resource centres and NGO networks the Govt-UNDP IT system will function as a major source of information.

- The Centre will facilitate access to a) Knowledge and know-how (access to documentation, assessment and research findings; Govt legislation/codes/schemes, manuals, guidelines, best practices, minimum standards); b) Institutions and experts (network services where NGOs, UN, Govt have a great role to play); c) Government - both at state and local levels (in order to ensure synergy with overall policy and schemes to be facilitated by UN).

- The Central Chennai Resource Centre would connect to a network of local/district resource centres (to be created or already in existence) in order to collect/disseminate information and resources. The centre will build on the existing initiatives developed at district and local levels.

- It will help determine appropriate approaches and technology for recovery by hosting/organizing workshops and events, which can build capacities of stakeholders and consolidate the overall network.

- It would develop and implement tools to support the above - a website and related IT tools, newsletters etc.

Expected Results

- Coordination mechanisms streamlined -building of existing local initiatives- and inclusive of all relevant actors (NGOs, GoTN, UN, Donors...); Gaps and overlaps identified leading to an overall increase in the quality of assistance.

- Improved information sharing on a continuous basis among the NGOs, GoTN, UN, Donors and other stakeholders.

- Knowledge exchanged among stakeholders, favourably impacting the recovery planning/implementation/policy making.

- Centralized resources that offer information to support civil society activities.

- Enhanced connectivity between Government and civil society

- Network created with accessible directory of INGOs, NGOs, GoTN, National/International Institutions, experts.

- Greater cross sectoral/inter-organization learning and capacities among stakeholders on recovery approaches developed.

- Enhanced cost efficiency and shared initiatives (e.g. research, evaluations, sourcing expertise etc.)

This project will run for two years and will focus on Tsunami affected issues and coordination effort. Beyond this period it may be possible for the Resource Centre to take on a broader developmental role.

Note to Editors:

Drawing on the UN System's experience in Orissa in the aftermath of the 1999 super cyclone and in Gujarat following the 2001 earthquake, the UN's contribution in Tamil Nadu and other tsunami affected States is to mobilize resources for the rehabilitation and reconstruction phases.

Working with the poor and marginalized communities, the focus of the UN is to facilitate the rapid recovery of the affected populations in a way that leads to the sustainable reduction of disaster risks and expands the opportunities for development. It also ensures the mainstreaming of issues pertaining to long-term vulnerability reduction, sustainability and environmental conservation.