Sri Lanka

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 22 - 28 Jul 2005

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Situation Report
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Posted
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Overall Situation

UNDP has initiated a peoples' consultation on post-tsunami recovery in the tsunami-affected districts in the south, east and northern coasts of the island, aimed at strengthening people's participation in the rebuilding efforts. The consultations will take place in more than 1,100 villages in 11 tsunami-affected districts in the country through 460 focus-group discussions. The objective of these consultations is to better determine the needs of the people on recovery issues (including resettlement, livelihoods etc), to increase their understanding of the recovery process and to share information from these consultations with all relevant stakeholders such as line ministries, TAFREN and the ministry of finance and planning.

So far, consultations have been completed in Kalutara, Beruwela, Panadura and Galle districts in the south, and are scheduled to begin in Jaffna, Matara and Hambantota next week. The project is being carried out by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the University of Colombo, which will in turn collaborate with regional universities in the south, north, east and the south-east. These consultations will enable the Government to adopt a bottom-up approach to tsunami recovery in the country. The findings from the consultations are being compiled to be shared with all relevant stakeholders.

The U.S. government has signed an agreement with the Sri Lankan government authorizing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement a broad-reaching package of tsunami reconstruction projects, bringing total U.S. tsunami assistance to more than US$133 million. US$57 million in new activities is aimed at restoring Sri Lanka's productive infrastructure and economy. These large-scale infrastructure projects include construction of an all-new bridge over Arugam Bay, rehabilitation of up to 14 vocational technical centers including construction of two new model schools, and reconstruction and upgrades of fishing harbors in Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, and Dondra. An additional $20 million for tsunami recovery at the local level provided through a separate mechanism in Washington will bring the United States commitment of new funds to US$77 million. This new funding complements the US$56 million already obligated for the relief and recovery program covering the transition from "camps to communities" that includes the ongoing REVIVE livelihoods restoration program and the "Bounce Back" international tourism campaign.

Health

In follow-up to the suspected hepatitis "A" cases in Vaharai, Batticaloa district from June, the Italian Red Cross has reported that the Ministry of Health in Vaharai had not come across a hepatitis "A" case over the past four weeks. However, hygiene promotion activities continue. Another workshop "Hygiene Promotion and Disease Prevalence" for 40 volunteers took place on 20 July.

Sri Lanka's leaders have been urged to "break the silence" surrounding HIV and AIDS as the low infection rate stands threatened by mounting poverty, internal and external migration, the long-term effects of the ethnic conflict and by the tsunami. The country's first Millennium Development Goals Report (MDGR) advised the nation's leaders "to break the silence... to encourage people to learn how to protect themselves and how to show respect and compassion for those living with HIV" as the numbers of commercial sex workers, sexually active youth and internally displaced people increase. "The underlying factors for sexual transmission that lead to high partner exchange are mainly due to poverty, deteriorating economic and social conditions, armed conflict, the presence of a large military force, youth and women migrants," says the MDGR. The conclusion is closely linked to the report's findings that over five million people - nearly one in four Sri Lankans - live below the national poverty line. The 26 December 2004 tsunami disaster has also jeopardized the country's social sector gains with some 100,000 displaced people still living in trying conditions in tents and makeshift shelters. The effects of the tsunami - including lost livelihoods, physical dislocation, lack of privacy in the camps, and destruction of traditional community structures - are also putting people at greater risk of the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The MDGR, which was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was commissioned by the National Council for Economic Development to assess Sri Lanka's performance in meeting the United Nations' eight key development goals. It was released at the Sri Lanka Development Forum held in May.

The rehabilitation of health facilities through UNICEF and Merlin is ongoing at both the GN and district level in Batticaloa. On 15 July, the Health Department convened a meeting with all agencies who have signed MOUs for the rehabilitation of health facilities damaged or destroyed by the tsunami. Of the 27 sites, work has begun on 6 sites. Delays vary from land yet to be identified to operational constraints. The need to expedite the implementation of these plans was emphasized.

Non-food items and shelter

IOM on 22 July handed over 148 transitional homes to tsunami-affected families in Kallady in Trincomalee district. The transitional accommodation will house about 600 people, and Kallady residents celebrated the event with traditional dancing and sporting activities. All the houses are built to a high standard and will protect their occupants when monsoon rains set in on the east coast later this year. Each home provides a family with at least 200 square feet of space, as well as adequate ventilation, electricity, water, sanitation and protection from the elements. IOM also built a community centre at the Kallady site, as well as showers, toilets and a covered play area for children. An IOM sewing centre equipped with 12 sewing machines provides residents with recreation and income-generating opportunities. IOM has completed more than 2,100 transitional houses island-wide and almost 1,000 more homes are under construction. IOM has also constructed 18 temporary schools in Sri Lanka.

According to official Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) statistics for Batticaloa district, as of 27 July, 81 per cent of transitional shelters -- 9,624 out of 11,869 required -- have been completed. The number of required shelters, as submitted by the Divisional Secretaries, continues to rise steadily every week.

With regard to determining a final official number of required transitional shelters for Batticaloa district, the shelter group agreed for lead shelter agencies in the different divisions to compose a team together with TAP and the Divisional Secretariat office and present a final requirement by 15 August. However, the group also agreed that, while this should be an official benchmark for the completion of required shelters, it should not prevent individual shelter assistance beyond this date. The group also agreed to set up divisional teams with water/sanitation colleagues to assess the requirements for upgrading. A joint session is going to convene under the leadership of IOM on 3 August to clarify common standards (amongst others, the TAP guidelines "Programme for Improvement of Transitional Shelters") to be considered before the teams move on to assessments in the different divisions.

In Kallaru division, Kilinochchi district, UN-HABITAT is initiating a housing programme for re-settlers. Work has already commenced with 43 beneficiaries having received an advance of Rs.215,000 toward a total of Rs.500,000 to begin work on constructing the foundations of their houses. UN-HABITAT is also funding construction of two common wells at Kallaru. Finding adequate sources of safe water will be a challenge in Kallaru.

In Ampara 60 per cent of construction work on 100 shelters has been completed by three SCiSL partners. Three proposals from three potential partners are under consideration to construct 100 more shelters in Kalmunai, Maruthamunai and Akkaraipattu in Ampara district.

Education

In Akkaraipattu, SCiSL with partner organizations has arranged for the stitching and fabrication of 2,837 girl's uniforms and 2, 046 boy's uniforms and 40 primary school teachers have been provided bicycles and 44 with teacher's kits, each costing Rs 5,000.

In Point Pedro, Jaffna district, the government has granted permission to rebuild tsunami-affected schools in their original sites within the buffer zone and land has been handed over to the Zonal Director of Education by the Government Agent for relocated schools in Vada East. World Vision in Jaffna has agreed to conduct the repairs to five schools in the area.

Livelihoods

SCiSL has been involved in the repair of 34 three-wheelers and purchase of five new ones, all of which have been handed over to beneficiaries.

The Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries Matara has distributed 115 coir yarning machines to women in Devinuwara with another 35 machines to be distributed in the near future.

Protection

Tsunami-affected children from five Divisional Secretary divisions in Trincomalee will come together for the "Sunshine Festival" on 30-31 July in Trincomalee town. The Sunshine Festival, named by children involved in organizing the event, will involve 3,000 children and 2,000 adults affected by both the tsunami and years of conflict. The festival will help create a space for children to express themselves in a fun, positive and creative manner. In meetings with children, they said they needed an opportunity for all the children in tsunami-affected areas of Trincomalee to come together and take part in social activities that give them an outlet for what they have experienced. To help them achieve this, the Community Empowerment Network of Trincomalee (CENT), comprised of local NGOs and community leaders and international aid agencies, decided to organize a two-day festival to bring children together. This will promote greater healing for tsunami-affected children and their parents, create a sense of hope for children who think all is lost, and foster unity among children in the district. During the festival children will participate in sports, games, cultural dances, songs and drama, art exhibitions and story telling. The festival also aims to foster inter-ethnic and religious relations among the different groups in Trincomalee district. Each ethnic and religious group will present dances, songs, arts, games and drama. Children will come from Eachilampatu, Muthur, Town and Gravets, Kucheveli, and Kinniya.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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