The vulnerable poor and marginalized are the most affected by natural disasters and have limited resources to recover by their own means. Support to improved land use practices and productivity, to the restoration of inland fishing, and to the re-vitalization of small businesses are vitally important for sustaining rural and coastal livelihoods and economic growth at the household and village level.
In the three main countries of operation - Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives - innovative approaches by the Federation and partner national societies (PNS) are helping to restore the lives and livelihoods of the communities and individuals affected by the tsunami.
Revitalizing small businesses in Indonesia
Many communities along the coastline of Aceh province were reduced to poverty levels as a consequence of the economic disruption caused by the tsunami. In particular, villages relying on agricultural production and fisheries for subsistence and small business were severely affected.
Restoring the livelihoods of the estimated 600,000 people affected by the tsunami, and those impacted by subsequent earthquake in Nias earthquake, is an integral part of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement's recovery activities in Sumatra.
Several PNS active in the Movement Coordination Framework (MCF) for Indonesia have committed their resources to helping rebuild the socio-economic fabric and have dedicated livelihoods projects underway. The MCF programmes include restoring traditional industries such as fishing and farming, fostering entrepreneurial initiatives and, with some plans, integrating employment activities with housing reconstruction programmes.
One of several Red Cross Red Crescent projects restoring customary industries on Sumatra is the Danish Red Cross 'Primary production support programme' in 16 tsunami-affected villages in Teunom district along Aceh's west coast. The project is helping to revitalize the agricultural base through a three-pronged approach encompassing: flood prevention, including river bank protection and dyke reconstruction; rehabilitation of agricultural drainage systems; and local gardening support, including provision of seeds and also training where required. The programme is also complemented by a community-based needs identification process and a community-driven cash component that generates employment for people to carry out the labour-intensive rehabilitation and reconstruction work.
The French Red Cross (FRC) has a pilot project well into implementation that is revitalizing a small part of the jermai (inland) fishing industry off the coast of Pidie district. Fishermen are being re-supplied with nets, rope to repair the nets, and inshore boats. Onshore, middlemen "basket holders" are provided with woven baskets to carry the fish catches from the boats to fishmongers. The FRC is completing the economic chain by distributing buckets and ice storage boxes to fishmongers so that the fish can be preserved to reach markets further away, previously beyond accessibility because the catch would rot if transported longer distances. The scale of this project is modest, numbering no more than two dozen beneficiaries in each of the three stages; however all the Acehnese involved in the project are now earning a sustainable living.
The Belgian Red Cross Fr. and Federation consortium to build 17 traditional labi-labi longboats reaches back into the long maritime history of Aceh. When completed, these 19-metre deepwater fishing boats will form the basis of a Panglima Laut cooperative; an organization with traditions stretching into the past of Aceh's nautical traditions, where all the fishermen on a boat equally share the gains rather than one boat owner with non-secure daily workers. To date, five labi-labi are finished and are having their mechanical equipment installed; six are on the water with hulls completed and decks being built; and the rest are in varying stages of construction. Altogether, these 17 deep-sea fishing boats will restore the livelihoods of 289 fishermen, which will, in turn, benefit an additional 1,500 family members.
The British Red Cross Society's (BRCS) livelihoods programme combines entrepreneurial development with the provision of permanent housing. Six thousand households, representing some 15,000 people, are involved in various kinds of small business enterprises, with 2,500 of these families identified as needing new homes - to be built by BRCS as well. Heads of household are given technical assistance to prepare an expenditure plan for their proposed business, and funds are deposited into specially-created bank accounts in three phases, as carefully-monitored milestones are reached. The businesses include typical activities such as fishing and farming, but also ventures like warung (road-side stalls and shops) and animal husbandry. Warung being set up include coffee shops, food stands, walk-in dinettes and tailors, while buffalos are proving very popular for livestock rearing. Single parents receive an extra stipend and children orphaned by the tsunami and living with surviving relatives receive education payments to stay in school.
The Irish Red Cross secondary education cash assistance programme (SECAP) focuses specifically on keeping children in school who may otherwise be forced to seek work to bring needed income into families impoverished by the post-tsunami economic disruption. Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia/PMI) programme partner volunteers consult with local village leaders to identify the most vulnerable families, and bank employees travel to the communities to set up accounts for the students. The money received is used for a variety of household needs as well as for school costs, plus the grants free up family savings for use on other needs other than to support their children's education. The project is seeing real success. More than 1,500 students are enrolled in SECEP. The project will expand to 5,000 students by the last quarter of 2006, and - importantly - 250 youngsters who were in their final year of schooling when the programme was started have since graduated. It is estimated that the improved employability of these new graduates will have a knock-on effect of contributing to the economic improvement of their home communities and of the Acehnese economy overall.
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