Somalia + 2 more

Six-month tsunami accountability report

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I. Introduction
With the historic support of individuals, corporations and foundations, Mercy Corps is providing assistance for over one million survivors of last December's Indian Ocean tsunami. This report outlines Mercy Corps' financial accountability, program strategy, country-by-country highlights and ongoing vision in tsunami-affected areas. Over the last six months, Mercy Corps relief and recovery programs have helped tsunami survivors:

- Clear over 50 miles of road in Indonesia's Aceh Province,

- Move and repair more than 250 large fishing boats,

- Revitalize damaged tourist infrastructure in villages that depend on that industry,

- Send children back to school by repairing ruined classrooms and providing supplies, uniforms and tuition to nearly 30,000 students, and

- Reclaim over 600 acres of cropland inundated by salt water by digging more than 100 drainage channels and distributing seeds, tools and fertilizer to farmers.

Six months after disaster struck Southern Asia and East Africa, over 250 Mercy Corps field officers and hundreds of local partner staff are making sustainable progress throughout the region. Our work has been inspired and accelerated by the remarkable resolve of tsunami survivors striving to reclaim their lives. Now, from this vantage point, we take a look at we've done together so far - and how we will help families recover in the long term.

II. Financial Accountability

Since December 26, 2004, the agency has raised more than $30 million in private funds for tsunami relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding activities. More than 100,000 individuals, corporations and foundations have invested in Mercy Corps' tsunami response programs. In addition, over $5.5 million in donated goods and supplies have been donated and shipped to tsunami-affected areas. Mercy Corps has also raised more than $7.5 million in government and institutional grants.

As of April 30, 2005, Mercy Corps has already spent over $7.75 million to assist tsunami survivors. Including material aid, more than $13 million has been allocated to tsunami programs. This total represents over 30% of the total tsunami funding the agency has received. This percentage illustrates Mercy Corps' commitment to get resources and funding to tsunami survivors quickly and efficiently. According to InterAction (www.interaction.org), international humanitarian organizations spent an average of 17% of tsunami funding, excluding governmental grants, through the end of March. While many factors must be taken into account, this number indicates that Mercy Corps has been especially quick and efficient in transforming funding into critical assistance for families.

III. Our Current Approach to Tsunami Recovery

Today, Mercy Corps is helping families recover in tsunami-affected areas of India, Indonesia, Somalia and Sri Lanka. What sets Mercy Corps' work apart is that the agency's tsunami recovery programs are community-driven. Initiatives are often conceived, shaped and pushed forward by the survivors themselves, whose pride, energy and initiative are critical to long-term success and sustainability.

Mercy Corps is focusing on helping returning tsunami survivors to rebuild their communities and livelihoods as quickly as possible. Three ways we're approaching this goal are:

- We focus on projects that have immediate benefit, such as providing tools to fishermen, even as local and national governments clarify long-term reconstruction strategies.

- We get resources, funding and other assistance to the people who need it most, by listening to trusted members of local communities.

- We build strong partnerships with local organizations in order to move quickly, respond to real needs and leverage local "know-how."

Throughout tsunami-affected communities, Mercy Corps' work has been quick, efficient and innovative. With the generosity of donors, expertise of local partners and resolve of survivors, a remarkable amount of work and progress have been accomplished over the last six months.

IV. Program Highlights

Through our tsunami recovery programs, Mercy Corps is:

- Getting people back to work quickly: On any weekday in April 2005, over 23,000 people in tsunami-ravaged areas were hard at work restoring community infrastructure like roads, water systems and public buildings through Mercy Corps' cash-for-work programs. The fair daily wages paid by these programs have helped community members feed their families, revived local economies while rebuilding critical infrastructure. In addition, cash-for-work programs gave tsunami survivors a tangible routine and sense of purpose in the face of tremendous loss and uncertainty.

- Getting families back to their home communities: Mercy Corps is working side-by-side with community members who were displaced by the tsunami and supporting their efforts to get back home and revitalize their villages. We partner with communities to determine their greatest needs - water, schools, electricity

- and help them achieve their goals. At the end of April, about half the people displaced from the hard-hit Indonesian city of Meulaboh had returned home. We expect that trend to continue, and plan to help 125 displaced communities return home this year.

- Getting local markets back up and running: A strong, complete recovery from the tsunami's devastation depends on vibrant, sustainable economic activity throughout affected communities. Mercy Corps has joined with varied local partners - including business groups, trade associations and municipal governments - to ensure investment and support for fledgling local economies. In April, Mercy Corps provided investment capital for seven brick-making businesses in Banda Aceh, Indonesia to start supplying the burgeoning demand for bricks in the area. Mercy Corps has been hard at work with the people of Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, to get their tourism industry back on track, providing small loans, supplies and technical support to get hostels and restaurants back to business.

V. Country Highlights

Mercy Corps' tsunami recovery programs are committed to helping tsunami survivors find long-term solutions to problems in local communities. Here's a country-by-country breakdown of program highlights so far:

Indonesia: Mercy Corps is helping over 423,000 people in 64 villages throughout Aceh Province, the area nearest the earthquake's epicenter. Primary activities include cash-for-work programs, assisting local business associations, restoration of area schools and strengthening of social institutions.

- Mercy Corps' cash-for-work programs in Indonesia employ more than 17,500 local laborers in over 60 different projects every month, including clearing debris, repairing roads and restoring community buildings while providing a source of income for area families. These programs have cleared over 50 miles of road in Banda Aceh alone.

- Complete, lasting recovery from the tsunami depends greatly on families returning to their home villages. Mercy Corps is facilitating the return of tsunami-displaced families from camps to their home villages. Program activities, including providing building materials and ensuring clean water, are benefiting 29 communities and over 6,600 households. In April alone, 7,429 people returned to their home villages thanks to support from Mercy Corps.

- One of Mercy Corps' key tsunami recovery goals is the revitalization of businesses that drive local economies. One example of this is the agency's work to rebuild Aceh Province's vital fishing industries. Mercy Corps has moved approximately 125 boats cast ashore by the waves and is repairing 128 large fishing boats. The agency has also distributed 157 fishing kits containing critical supplies. This support has impacted thousands in families who depend directly and indirectly on fishing for their livelihoods.

Sri Lanka: Mercy Corps is working in 46 communities spread out over six districts of coastal Sri Lanka, providing long-term support for over 610,000 people. In addition to distribution of household supplies, cash-for work programs, and grants to small businesses, the agency is also helping restore the area's devastated and economically vital tourist industry.

- Through a combination of grants, equipment and specialized training from tourism industry leaders, Mercy Corps is helping tourism in Arugam Bay get back in business. Next steps include development of a website and a marketing campaign.

- Cash-for-work programs in Sri Lanka employ more than 5,100 local Sri Lankans and have helped clean and repair schools, clear debris from roads and rebuild critical infrastructure such as bridges.

- Mercy Corps strategy in Sri Lanka includes a strong focus on children's recovery from the tsunami. Mercy Corps and local partners have provided a wide range of support to schools, including supplies to over 5,000 schoolchildren in Ampara district. The agency is also helping provide opportunities for play activities, which help children explore their feelings and resume social interaction with other young people.

- Across the tsunami-ravaged coast, Mercy Corps is conducting business training and other educational activities for over 4,000 local fishermen, helping them better market their products.

India: Mercy Corps quickly partnered with two local Indian organizations to provide emergency relief and long-term development to tsunami-affected villages. The agency has reached over 44,000 people in India to date.

- Through its partner organization DHAN, Mercy Corps is providing support for agricultural activities to over 10,600 people in India's devastated Nagapattinam district. This area had been largely passed over by other relief organizations. Agricultural restoration projects include drainage and de-silting of salt-damaged crop fields, rehabilitation of contaminated village ponds, and provision of small livestock such as goats to families. To date, more than 600 acres of cropland have been reclaimed.

- Mercy Corps and DHAN have built over 110 temporary shelter and community buildings, including houses, community halls, storerooms and community kitchens.

- The partner agencies are also working with women's self-help groups to incorporate HIV/AIDS awareness, intervention and education strategies into long-term community support activities.

Somalia: Through a partnership with local agency Horn Relief, Mercy Corps is launching cash-for-work projects in ten communities on Somalia's devastated east Puntland coast. These projects will employ approximately 7,200 tsunami survivors. The program's primary activities include building bridges, repairing roads and shoring up drainage ditches and canals that were eroded by the tsunami.

VI. Future Plans

Mercy Corps' continuing strategy for helping families recover from the tsunami involves multi-year projects designed to help restore a sense of normalcy in devastated communities, ensure sustainable livelihoods for households, and revitalize local economies. Mercy Corps is consciously applying lessons learned from previous disasters to develop an appropriate response and design innovative, flexible and effective programs. The agency's ongoing program strategy is guided by our commitment to help people build strong, productive communities and underpinned by a focus on economic recovery. Strategic partnerships with national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local governments and our communities play an important role in our ability to achieve lasting results.

Mercy Corps is also bringing innovation to the rebuilding and recovery effort through use of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. These cutting-edge technologies are enabling the agency to gather and organize data on soil quality, fishery health and other key environmental factors that impact agriculture and fishing. This data will be used to help communities make informed decisions about how to approach future crops and fishing strategies.

In Indonesia, long-term tsunami recovery programs will center around four main components:

- Helping communities lead their own recovery and reconstruction efforts

- Restoring productivity and re-establishment of livelihoods

- Revitalizing social support structures devastated by loss of life, depletion of resources and destruction of property

Sri Lanka's long-term plan is to create a healthy, sustainable environment with revitalized economic opportunities, adequate infrastructure and improved community life. This will be achieved through an integrated program based on economic development of small and medium enterprises, development of local aid organizations and community mobilization and infrastructure repair. Since most communities in Sri Lanka and Indonesia are dependent on coastal economies, economic development will focus on fisheries and tourism.

Mercy Corps' work in India and Somalia will largely focus on empowering local organizations to carry out effective, sustainable humanitarian work. These organizations will help tsunami-affected families to ensure availability of food resources and find new, improved economic opportunities.

VI. Summary

Since last December's devastating tsunami, Mercy Corps has been at the forefront of relief, return and recovery efforts. We began assisting survivors within hours of the disaster, and have been standing with them ever since. Through village-driven economic, educational, organizational and agricultural programs, Mercy Corps will continue working with survivors to ensure sustainable, long-term strengthening of communities.

Mercy Corps and its partners are making concrete progress on restoring lives and livelihoods in the tsunami-affected countries we serve. The generosity of our donors, combined with Mercy Corps' experience, efficiency and innovation, will continue to make a difference for tsunami survivors for years to come.