European Parliament's Delegation for relations with South Asia visits ASB implemented housing project in Menik Farm Village, Vavuniya Sri Lanka

Report
from Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund Deutschland e.V., European Union
Published on 02 Mar 2011
The European Parliamentary Delegation for relations with South Asia, led by Ms. Jean Lambert (Greens, European Free Alliance, UK) visited the EU funded permanent housing project for conflicted affected IDPs in Vavuniya on the 23rd February 2011. On the day, the 7 member delegation visited Menik Farm village, Vavuniya DS where 109 houses were constructed by implementing partner Arbeiter- Samariter- Bund (ASB) for over 436 beneficiaries previously living in temporary and or semi permanent accommodation.

Initiated in February 2010, the first phase of this 3 year project has seen a total of 518 owner driven permanent houses constructed in Vavuniya Divisional Secretariat and Cheddikulam DSD. The project works in consultation with and participation of the local government structure for instance beneficiaries are selected after a comprehensive selection process made in consultation with Divisional Secretariat officials in the respective locations. Subsequently, key construction related decisions are decided upon at monthly meetings held at the Divisional Secretariats Office with relevant project staff and community representatives. Overall implementation of this project is conducted in close cooperation with the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development and Security in the Northern Province.

In keeping with the owner-driven concept, the project design requires owners themselves to contribute their labour and time for constructing their own houses. Practical Action handles capacity building of ASB staff in community mobilizing and technical skills and provides training in new construction techniques to beneficiaries. Mohomed Ansari, ASB Community Mobilization Advisor said "Initially, it was hard to motivate people to commit to a housing project like this. But once they complete the work, stage by stage they become more and more encouraged. The community plays a key role that is why we prioritized capacity building. Today, 80% of the houses are above the minimum standard and have received the certificate of conformity from the Pradeshiya Sabha which is very rewarding for the entire ASB team."

Each tiled roof house is 500 square feet and consists of a living room, two bed rooms, a kitchen and a toilet. A housing grant valued at 325,000 LKR is given to each beneficiary in 5 installments on successful completion of each stage.

Beneficiary of the project Rengasamy Thangarasa welcomed the delegation into his new home and shared his thoughts "I'm a single parent, the only breadwinner is my daughter as I have to stay at home and look after my son who is paralyzed. If not for the support shown to me by ASB I would never have been able to build a house like this. In fact I was able to save enough money and build an extra room and this was purely due to the guidance given to me by the Community Mobilizers's and Technical Officers's who assisted beneficiaries throughout the process."

When this EU funded project implemented by ASB draws to a close it will see the construction of 3,231 owner driven houses for conflict affected IDP's in the Vavuniya District. Considered as an added value of the project, the in-built capacity development component will see some 1000 masons and carpenters benefit through learning new construction skills that would no doubt in the future inject new life into the local economy.

At the conclusion of the visit Ms. Jean Lambert (Greens, European Free Alliance, UK) said "It is encouraging to see what a combination of appropriate assistance and people's own contribution can do. This is a very interesting and impressive project and there must be more like it. Overall a civil society solution must be found to address the long term needs to of the people."

For more information please contact Meryse Tissera, Manager Communications, ASB Sri Lanka. Telephone: 2554530/1. Email: meryse.tissera@asb.lk