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South Asia: Six months after tsunamis, much work remains

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WASHINGTON, June 23 -- Six months after the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunamis devastated huge swaths of South and Southeast Asia, a tremendous amount of work still needs to be done, so that those most affected can regain their economic livelihoods and resume normal lives.
While there are increasing signs of reconstruction along Asia's coastlines, organizations such as CHF International, a world leader in post-disaster and post-conflict assistance, know a great deal of work will remain for years to come.

Immediately following the massive earthquake and tsunamis that killed over 150,000 people, CHF International mobilized its disaster response experts to assist with relief efforts in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. But, six months after the tsunami, CHF International's focus has clearly shifted from immediate relief to fostering community-driven efforts aimed at rebuilding.

"The frantic early days of the immediate response have given way to the long, hard months and years of helping devastated communities come back to life," said Vice President John W. Chromy. He added, "As we are in this next critical stage of the relief effort, we are now prioritizing our programs so that they focus on restoring victims' economic livelihoods."

In Sri Lanka's Galle and Matara districts, CHF has already built over 700 transitional shelters of the 3,000 planned, along with nearly 100 sanitation projects including toilets and showers.

Meanwhile, in Aceh, Indonesia, CHF has focused on projects that will reestablish markets and livelihoods. Projects are restoring boats and equipment for fishing communities, providing start-up capital to women market traders, rehabilitating and restoring local markets, and developing strategies for shelter provision and community resettlement.

Since the reintroduction and maintenance of livelihood assets and skills is vital to the well being of communities affected by natural disasters, CHF integrated a number of income-generating activities into its post-tsunami projects, including: shelter reconstruction, cash-for-work clean-up activities and construction projects, which have created 8,000 days of paid work for local people who lost their jobs.

Founded in 1952, CHF International serves as a catalyst for long-lasting positive change in low- and moderate-income communities around the world, helping families improve their economic circumstances, environment and infrastructure. The organization provides technical expertise and leadership in international development, including critical emergency management following disasters and civil conflict. CHF has worked in nearly 100 countries worldwide since its inception.

For more information, please contact CHF's Communications Manager, Jennifer Hyman, at 301-587-4700 or jhyman@chfinternational.org