Sri Lanka

CARE International UK and Marks & Spencer launch new tsunami reconstruction programme in Sri Lanka

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LONDON - Two Sri Lankan villages struck by the Asian tsunami are set to benefit from new homes and help in re-establishing their livelihoods through a partnership launched today by Marks & Spencer and humanitarian agency CARE International UK.

The Marks & Spencer funded project will:

- rebuild up to 80 new permanent homes for those currently living in temporary accommodation;

- give villagers opportunities to generate an income again by training them to assist in building the new homes;

- help to re-establish local businesses and trades for the long-term by providing villagers with the tools and assets they need to start again;

- and include the secondment of an M&S employee to oversee the development and delivery of the programme.

The villages of Kahawa and Akurala in the Galle district of Sri Lanka were hard hit by the Boxing Day tsunami with some 3,750 people either losing their homes or livelihoods. Traditional industries like fishing and tourism-related businesses such as tea stalls and souvenir-selling were devastated and people are living in temporary shelters.

On the ground, CARE and Marks & Spencer will be working in partnership with Sri Lanka's largest NGO, Sarvodaya, which has established community networks in the two villages affected. In addition to providing more than £250,000 in funding for the 10-month reconstruction programme, Marks & Spencer has seconded a project manager, Abi Rushton, to help develop and deliver the programme in Sri Lanka, where the Company has an established supply base. Abi has spent the last three years in Sri Lanka running Marks & Spencer's quality management office, working closely with its suppliers there.

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of CARE International UK, said: "CARE's ambition through its work right across the tsunami-affected region is not just to return people to the standards of living they were enjoying before the tsunami but to actually improve their quality of life and opportunities.

"This welcome partnership with Marks & Spencer enables us to work with two more communities to rebuild not only the physical infrastructure but also to get the local economy up and running again. Both are vital to the long-term sustainability of these communities."

Stuart Rose, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer, said: "This project is a great example of how best to help communities re-establish themselves by rebuilding their homes and generating much-needed income again. In addition to the funding the project, we've also taken the step of seconding one of our managers to CARE to ensure we are fully involved and can help make a lasting difference."

Marks & Spencer customers also generously donated £2m earlier in the year to the Company's Asian Earthquake Appeal. This money was sent to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fund to support both the emergency relief efforts and longer term construction projects.

CARE, which is a member of the DEC, has existing programmes in the five countries hardest hit by the tsunami, including Sri Lanka. Following initial relief efforts, CARE is now working on long-term redevelopment with programmes ranging from health and water, rebuilding homes, restarting local economies as well as community activities that help people cope with everyday life again after the impact of the tsunami.

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Media contacts:

Olivia Ross, Marks & Spencer Corporate Press Office, on:
020 8718 1919 / 020 8718 1618

In addition to further information, interview requests with Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of CARE International UK, either during or following his visit to Sri Lanka and India, can be directed to:

Fiona Turnbull, Head of Communications, CARE International UK, on: 020 7934 9315 / 07788 106890

Geoffrey Dennis, chief executive of CARE International UK, and Abi Rushton, project manager on secondment from Marks & Spencer will be visiting the programme sites on the morning of Thursday 16 June 2005. Journalists interested in further information, should contact Robert Go, CARE's media officer in Sri Lanka, on +94 11 266 2905-7 (office) or +94 773205105 (mobile).

Notes to editors:

1. CARE is a leading international development agency working on both emergency relief programmes and long-term re-development. CARE is working in the five countries hardest hit by the tsunami: India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Thailand with programmes ranging from health, water and sanitation, rebuilding homes and restarting local economies as well as psychological support. For more information about CARE's work on the tsunami see www.careinternational.org.uk

2. Sarvodaya is Sri Lanka's largest NGO, established 47 years ago. It now works in some 15,000 villages across Sri Lanka on relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction, reawakening and reconciliation programmes. All of its work originates in the villages themselves and is implemented by local communities. Find out more at www.sarvodaya.org