Sri Lanka

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 08 - 14 Jul 2005

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Overall Situation

Venezuela donated US$ 6.2 million for the Sri Lanka Tsunami Relief Fund for the construction of 1,000 houses for tsunami-affected people. These houses are to be constructed in a location to be determined by the Government.

The Interagency Group in Batticaloa district has drafted and approved the INGO Code of Conduct for Buying, Renting and Employing Material and Human Resources. It establishes guidelines for INGO's and offers a grievance process which individuals or organisations can use if they feel they have experienced unhelpful behaviour from an NGO. According to the Code's drafters, "Buying, renting and employing at rates significantly higher than the accepted local rates disadvantages the whole community." Using the principle of 'do no harm' INGO's/NGO's are requested to subscribe to various standards in securing residential or office space; and employing and training staff. It even includes rate guidelines for employing labour, and for things such as transport and purchase of construction materials. The Code has now been sent to Colombo and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) where it is being considered for adoption nationwide.

Health

On 6 July, the NGO Mangrove held a six-month review of coordination work in the psycho-social sector in the Batticaloa district. Over 70 organizations are involved in the sector. There was overwhelming support for the continuation of a coalition of psycho-social agencies in the district, and initial proposals and ideas were put forward by participants regarding possible modalities for this. It was agreed that there was a need for greater commitment of time and resources by organizations to ensure coordination at the field level. Key decisions about the future of coordinated psycho-social work in the Batticaloa district will be made at a special meeting of Mangrove members on 20 July.

The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) is in the process of collecting existing data in Galle district on the number of disabled persons post-tsunami. Enquiries have been made to relevant health authorities, however, the only available baseline data is from 2001. Nonetheless, it is considered valuable and useful data in comparison to current data once it is collected and assessed. The government is investigating which would be the most appropriate body to collect current statistics. CHF, as lead agency in the divisions of Ambalangoda and Balapitiya, has requested Divisional Secretaries to provide segregated data on persons with vulnerabilities, either single parent families, the elderly, persons with physical disabilities, etc. Data from some divisions will be ready next week. At the same time, health authorities and the social welfare department have also been asked to obtain such figures.

Water and sanitation

During last week, World Vision was able to complete a major part of the Palmon Canal clearing project in Galle district, which is one of the 14 irrigation renovation projects undertaken by World Vision on the 15 irrigation canals, affected by the tsunami. The Palmon Canal, which is one of the major irrigation canals in the area, was the main source of water to nearly 250 acres of paddy cultivation in the nearby fields. The tsunami waters had submerged the canal and the water, which was mixed with saline water, had caused the growth of reeds, which totally covered the canal. As result of it this paddy field, which was once one of the most flourishing paddy fields, could not be cultivated. Using excavators, the reeds were carefully removed so as not to alter the level of the canal. Subsequently the plants, which were still remaining, were removed from the canal using laborers on a cash-for-work basis. As a result of World Vision's clearing the passage for the water to flow to the paddy cultivations, the farmers were able to reap their usual harvest. Further the threat of mosquito borne diseases which could have increased had the canal not been cleared, was eliminated.

Non-food items and shelter

The Urban Development Authority (UDA) distributed policy guidelines in Galle district for rehabilitation and reconstruction of tsunami-affected areas. Policy Guidelines for housing particularly for a price band states that the minimum size of a house will be 500sq ft, at a cost of Rs 600,000. These houses are to be provided with all basic infrastructure facilities such as access road, water, electricity, sewage. Furthermore, all housing will be planned as settlements equipped with playgrounds, recreation areas, commercial facilities and other basic services.

On 8 July, UNICEF handed over 40,000 "family packs" to the Ministry of Social Welfare (MOSW) to give to families moving out of tents and into the transitional shelters being built around the country. The family packs, costing nearly US$ 3 million, contain essential supplies including cooking pots, sleeping mats, lanterns, and hygiene kits for both adults and small children. UNICEF provided much of these supplies to families in need immediately after the tsunami hit the country, but six months on, families need new hygiene kits and extra supplies such as shovels, sleeping mats, and buckets for collecting water, in order to make their new shelters as comfortable as possible while they wait for permanent housing. UNICEF also handed over 40 motorcycles to the MOSW to support the work of Probation and Childcare staff and Child Rights Promotion officers who are assisting children badly affected by the tsunami across the South, North and East.

According to TAP statistics, as of 13 July, 77 per cent of all required semi-permanent shelters, or 8,968 out of a total of 11,635, were completed in Batticaloa district. On 13 July, a total of 856 families remained in welfare centers and 203 in tents. Almost all fully or partially damaged houses have been inspected to date -- 14,891 out of a total of 15,309 such homes. The number of contested cases is currently unavailable. Preliminary estimates suggest that 20 to 25 per cent of residents of inspected houses that had been damaged did not have land title.

IOM has completed a total of 2,000 transitional houses for survivors of the tsunami. All of the IOM's 2,000 transitional shelters provide at least 200 square feet of space per family, along with adequate ventilation, electricity, water, and sanitation. The shelters are also designed to last up to two years or longer, if necessary. IOM is examining how it can provide support to ensure that shelters of this standard are available in all tsunami-affected districts.

In a progress report on Galle district the Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) says a total of 4,556 transitional shelters have been constructed with 900 under construction. This will provide a total of 5,456 shelters when all are completed, which exceeds the required amount of 5,403. This will not pose a problem as the next stage of the transitional shelter project is to upgrade and rebuild some existing shelters that are deemed sub-standard or not strong enough to withstand harsh weather conditions. The decision to upgrade and rebuild shelters can come from the beneficiaries themselves or from an assessment approved by the Transitional Shelter Working Group and TAP. TAP has reported that as of 4 July a total of 231 families continue to live in tents in 14 camps in Galle district.

The number of permanent houses in Galle district according to the District Secretary is 88, all on new land. The total requirement is 5,568 with the division needing the most being Hikkaduwa which requires 2,183 houses. Six hundred and thirty-nine permanent houses are currently under construction throughout Galle District.

Maps have been provided by HIC District Support Unit on permanent housing sites and organisations planning to build on original sites where damaged houses are being repaired and reconstructed.

Education

The Ministry of Health and Education on 14 July, launched a major new report on "Emerging Issues among Adolescents in Sri Lanka" together with UNICEF. The report is based on a survey of roughly 40,000 Sri Lankan young people between the ages of 10 to19 years. This included nearly 30,000 school-going adolescents and more than 10,000 adolescents that are out of school. The survey examined a large array of issues that impact on adolescents, including family and social factors affecting their well being, sexual behaviour, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and knowledge on reproductive health.The survey found that lots of adolescents have a positive outlook on their families and their futures. The majority of school-going adolescents perceived their families as intimate and close (60per cent), and considered the family as a refuge for a problem. For a significant proportion their hero was a family member. Sixty per cent of adolescents positively concluded that their life is generally happy. The new findings have provided a wealth of information on the major issues affecting this country's young people. A consistent finding has been that Sri Lanka's adolescents need access to information about the dangers of alcohol and smoking, information about their bodies and how they work, and information about how to prevent HIV/AIDS, as currently they are still unaware of the many risks that they face in these areas.

Save the Children in Sri Lanka (SCiSL) has distributed 1,250 pre-school kits in Matara district and 2,207 in Galle. In Dewinuwara division, SCiSL has yet to do the distribution. Distribution of SCiSL pre-school kits is also in progress at Ambalangoda, Balapitia and Hikkaduwa divisions of Galle district.

Construction of permanent buildings in place of damaged buildings in Galle district will take another six months or more to complete. In the meantime, there is a lack of class room facilities, and children are finding it extremely difficult to concentrate on their studies as the limited number of available class rooms are over crowded. It was found essential to provide them with semi-permanent school buildings to conduct classes until permanent buildings are put-up. UNICEF responded to the request made by the provincial department of education to construct 10 semi-permanent buildings in five schools in Galle Education zone to facilitate 40 class rooms. Approximately 1,600 students will directly benefit from the semi permanent buildings. The total estimated cost for these 10 schools buildings is Rs 3,000,000. Of the ten school buildings five have already been completed and handed over to the respective schools. Work on the remaining five schools is in progress. The semi-permanent buildings can last more than five years and the buildings can be put to use for various extra curricular activities even after the completion of permanent buildings. In addition, UNICEF has provided school desks and chairs, uniforms, school bags, drink bottles, lunch boxes and teaching and learning aids to these schools. Other organizations involved in building of semi-permanent classrooms are SED Galle/ Caritas International, Adopt Sri Lanka, Project Galle 2005, Sewa Lanka, Hikkaduwa Area Relief Fund, with various donor funding from the Italian Civil Protection and Government, JICA, and Rotary International among others.

Livelihoods

FAO and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in recent days distributed 1,000 nets and 100 outboard motors to approximately 330 tsunami-affected fishers. The nets and motors distributed in Jaffna district were purchased through an FAO project funded by the Government of Japan. The Government of Japan contributed US$ 5 million in emergency assistance to FAO for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction work in tsunami-stricken countries, of which US$2.671 million was provided to Sri Lanka to be utilized in all adversely affected districts. Approximately US$26 730 worth of fishing net kits complete with ropes, floats and twine were distributed to beneficiaries in five locations of Jaffna district. These nets, procured with Japanese funds, will be used for fishing sardine and mackerel off the northern coast of Sri Lanka. There are 19 different organizations in Jaffna district working on fisheries livelihoods. They are involved in boat repair, provide boats and fishing equipment, rehabilitate fisheries infrastructure as well as work directly with fishers to ensure that their livelihoods are restored. FAO has already ordered more than US$1.3 million of fishing nets and equipment on the international markets to be delivered between now and August and is in the process of ordering US$4 million more. FAO also issued the equivalent of US$114,000 worth of outboard motors in Jaffna with funds received from Japan's Official Development Assistance. The 8 eight-horsepower engines meet the requirements of the lagoon and coastal fisheries of northern province. Many of the fishers have already had their boats repaired by NGOs and the government-owned boat repair company Cey-Nor Foundation. FAO supports Cey-Nor technically and financially using funds received from a number of international donors. The governments of Japan, Italy, Norway, Belgium as well as the Italian Civil Protection, ECHO and GTZ have contributed funds to ensure that boats damaged by the tsunami are expertly repaired and returned to service as soon as possible.

The Livelihood Task Force of Batticaloa, under the leadership of Cordaid, has been developing awareness training for fishermen and organizations working with fishermen on the issue of boats and the impact and sustainable management of eco-systems through more suitable fishing systems.

Infancia Sin Fronteras (Children without Borders) has been supplying a daily breakfast to over 1,500 children in several schools in Galle District since February, and has helped to reduce absentees in schools. To encourage school attendance, Infancia Sin Fronteras will continue the programme for at least one year. ISF has also completed three new classrooms in

Panchaliya Maha Vidyalaya, and a new building at Neth Savan Sarana K.V. ISF will be providing vocational training and computer skills to children and teenagers/ young adults in the area, with the criteria being those who are in a difficult position to afford learning skills and to find a job when they finish school. The Yashodara Balika Home is an orphanage for girls, and the girls must leave the orphanage at the age of 18.

Protection

SCiSL launched a need assessment for emergency preparedness in Ampara district on 12 July. Staff will be meeting with various stakeholders to conduct focus group discussions aiming to gather their opinions about emergency preparedness.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.