Sri Lanka + 6 more

DEC members have helped millions of Tsunami survivors since last boxing day

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Since last Boxing Day, millions of survivors of the tsunami have been helped by Disasters Emergency Committee member agencies. The total cost of 2005 relief and reconstruction so far was £128m - over a third of the money donated.

Chief Executive Brendan Gormley said: "On behalf of all DEC member agencies, I would like to say a big thank you to the British public for their generosity. I hope they will all have a sense of sharing in this achievement".

The DEC Tsunami Earthquake Appeal raised an incredible £372 million in donations from the British public after the tsunami. Another £50m was given directly to DEC member agencies. The global financing of tsunami reconstruction stands at about £8.6bn.

"We are proud of our members' success in the emergency relief stage. Our 12 agencies were on the spot immediately and helped ensure that there were no outbreaks of disease," said Mr Gormley.

"Rebuilding entire communities from scratch is extremely challenging. We are particularly proud of our members' achievements in cash for work projects, such as clearing debris, which have been very successful. Members have achieved so much while facing difficult situations and have learned a lot from the process."

2005 Breakdown

In Sri Lanka, the DEC has spent £40m.

In Indonesia, the DEC has spent £40m.

In India, the DEC has spent £31m.

In Thailand, Somalia, the Maldives and Myanmar the DEC spent £17m.

The DEC plans to spend up to £190 million in 2006, this will include more than 20,000 permanent houses, which will house around 100,000 men, women and children. Over ten thousand of the new homes will be in Indonesia, which was worst affected by the tsunami. Over six thousand will be in India, nearly three thousand in Sri Lanka and over a thousand spread across the other tsunami-hit countries. A major focus will be livelihoods.

DEC member agencies achievements in 2005 span roads, homes, schools, health clinics, water and sanitation. Examples include:

- Building thousands of high quality temporary shelters (and constantly upgrading them), building hundreds of permanent houses and laying the foundations for thousands more.

- Providing and repairing thousands of boats for fishing communities, so they can start earning money again from fishing.

- Providing thousands of work opportunities, such as training people who have lost their livelihoods in agriculture, sewing, masonry and carpentry.

- Identifying children whose families have died and ensuring they are protected.

- Helping tens of thousands of children to get back to school.

- Delivering hundreds of millions of litres of clean water.

- Rebuilding and renovating clinics.

- Training people in new skills.

- Giving therapeutic support to traumatised families.

- Helping people with early warning systems and better disaster prevention.

The ongoing challenges DEC member agencies have been facing include the conflict in Sri Lanka and Aceh, Indonesia and some initial mistrust of foreign assistance by Governments in the region.

"This made both planning and implementation complex," said Brendan Gormley. "Governments have set down building restrictions along coastlines which have hindered construction, and it's not easy to establish a person's right to land if all deeds and documents have been washed away. It is also hard to source building materials. Aid agencies do not want to deplete natural resources, but some governments are against importing these materials."

Key experiences that influenced the tsunami response:

- There are no 'quick-fix' solutions in housing. In common with other major emergencies, the house-building process normally takes up to three years. House reconstruction is not just a matter of building, but involves land rights and ownership.

- Keeping survivors and their families informed is crucial. To achieve this DEC member agencies are working closely with local partners. Survivors need to be leaders in the rehabilitation process, not just passive recipients.

- When Government or UN leadership is weak, DEC member agencies need to be proactive in getting their voices heard so their experience and skills are used to best effect.

- Attention must be paid to protecting the most vulnerable, including older people and women and children in conflict situations, particularly concerning those suffering from disabilities.

- The DEC Board of Trustees has built on previous risk management developments to form a Trustee Risk Management Board and create an internal auditor role, which strengthens governance mechanisms. The DEC Secretariat and all members undergo an annual external audit, and each member has internal auditing review procedures.

- Different agencies fill different but complementary niches in the wider recovery response.

For more information, photographs, footage or interviews with agency spokespeople in the UK or in tsunami-hit countries, please contact the DEC press office on 0207 255 9111 or on 07967 526885 (mobile).

For up to the minute news about DEC members' tsunami projects, please visit www.dec.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. DEC agency spending figures are taken at nine months into an appeal. The remainder is projected spending forecast for 2005.

2. Rebuilding all the houses destroyed in the tsunami is the equivalent to rebuilding the combined cities of Birmingham and Glasgow from scratch.

3. In Florida, many people are still living in temporary shelter more than a year after Hurricane Ivan struck.

4. It took seven years for the Japanese city of Kobe to recover from the 7.2 earthquake that killed 6,000 in 1995.

5. The DEC is an umbrella organisation, which represents 13 leading UK aid agencies. Its members are: ActionAid, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern, Help the Aged, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.

6. Islamic Relief was not a member of the DEC when the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal was launched, so it is twinned with CAFOD for this Appeal.