Colombo, 16 July 2012 – Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and the High Commission of India have signed an agreement to help 3,600 internally displaced families build homes in the eastern province of Sri Lanka.
The agreement is part of the second phase of a larger development project funded by the Indian government to build 43,000 houses in the northern and eastern provinces. The Indian Housing Project also involves UN-HABITAT, the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies in partnership with Sri Lanka Red Cross, and Sri Lanka’s National Housing Development Agency. The four organizations were chosen for their experience and expertise in implementing similar projects in Sri Lanka.
Tony Senewiratne, national director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, said: “It’s the first time that Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has partnered with the Indian High Commission and we are delighted to be selected along with the other agencies. We look forward to helping these families as they have been through so much. Having a decent, secure place to live is a major step in returning lives to normalcy and breaking the poverty cycle.” The agreement was inked at a ceremony last Friday and was witnessed by Hon. Basil Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Development and H.E. Ashok K. Kantha, High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka.
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka will help build all the houses in the eastern province for its part in the three-year project, while the other organizations will construct houses in the northern province.
Families to benefit from the project will undertake repair or construction of their own homes, with technical assistance and support provided by the four organizations. The High Commission of India will distribute funds in tranches directly to the bank accounts of the families based on the progress of construction.
The latest project will bring the number of houses Habitat for Humanity has helped build in Sri Lanka to over 6,800. Habitat previously built more than 3,200 homes for internally displaced families in Vakarai, Mannar and Oddusuddan.
The Thangathurai family were amongst the partner families that Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka worked with in Vakarai, Batticaloa district. Kuganeswary Thangathurai, 30, her husband and their three children were displaced by the war and lived in camps. When they were relocated back to Sinnathadumunai village in 2008 they did not have the means to build a permanent home and were living in a structure made of tin sheets and coconut leaves.
“My children now study very well in school. We are all very happy and looking forward to a brighter future”, said Kuganeswary, when she moved into her new home last year.
Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war displaced more than 300,000 people. Many houses were destroyed during the war and although many have now returned to their home villages, they are living in inadequate houses, without the resources to construct decent homes. Many more are still living in camps or with host families.