The tsunami that struck on December 26, 2004, hit a relatively narrow, but long strip of land stretching over 1,000 km (approximately 70 percent of Sri Lanka's coastline). The statistics below indicate the extent of the impact:
- Dead: 31,000
- Missing: 5,600
- Injured: More than 15,000
- Internally displaced: 500,000
- Total affected: 1 million (5 percent) of a total population of 19 million. Over half of affected districts are in areas touched by the North-East conflict.
- Most affected sectors: coastal livelihoods, dependent largely on fisheries, tourism, agriculture, and small businesses; total job losses are estimated at 380,000.
- Damage to infrastructure: close to 150,000 homes, 200 educational institutions, and 100 health facilities. Railway, power, telecommunications, water supply, and fishing ports also suffered significant damage.
- Long-term impact: an additional 250,000 people will fall below the poverty line, and poverty will deepen for thousands already suffering from over two decades of war.
Coordination of rehabilitation and reconstruction
The Government of Sri Lanka and international financial institutions estimate reconstruction will cost US$1.6 billion, primarily to rebuild key coastal infrastructure and re-establish livelihoods. Along with bilateral donors, they will complete detailed reconstruction plans for affected districts by spring 2005.
The Government of Sri Lanka Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN) will lead national reconstruction efforts and coordinate input by various line ministries.
The international financial institutions (Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and Japan Bank for International Co-operation) have established a Steering Committee as a counterpart to TAFREN that includes participation from bilateral donors.
The Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies, a non-governmental group that pre-dates the tsunami crisis, brings together Sri Lankan and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and offers another vehicle for coordination.
Canada will channel assistance and requests for funding related to Sri Lanka through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Tsunami Assistance Co-ordination Committee Secretariat in CIDA'S Asia Branch.
Reconstruction Programming Strategy
The international community has pledged more than US$6 billion for tsunami relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction, of which Canada is contributing $425 million. Relief efforts are moving quickly towards reconstruction.
CIDA's support for reconstruction will complement existing programming over four years. Reconstruction efforts will subsequently dovetail into the ongoing development program.
Meeting local needs: CIDA's support will be rooted in needs expressed by Sri Lankans and build on Canadian capacities in the priority sectors identified below. CIDA will encourage adherence to guiding principles for reconstruction drafted by donors that address issues such as local ownership and gender sensitivity.
Peace process: A breakdown of the ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would undermine reconstruction and threaten the security of aid workers. Therefore, all CIDA-supported programming must be conflict-sensitive and seek to strengthen the peace process. Moreover, CIDA needs to stay flexible to ensure its support for recovery remains relevant.
Canadian strengths: Canada has expertise in re-establishing livelihoods, rebuilding local capacity to manage and participate in reconstruction, environmental rehabilitation, and gender equality. Though transportation and housing are important, Canada does not have comparative advantage in these sectors in Sri Lanka. Some repair of housing and small-scale community infrastructure may be appropriate as part of broader community rehabilitation programs.
Gender equality: To date, gender equality has not been adequately integrated into Sri Lanka's reconstruction planning and needs assessments. CIDA will mainstream gender equality within all of its projects, ensuring that women are engaged in, and benefit from, tsunami reconstruction processes.
As its overarching goal, CIDA's Sri Lanka tsunami reconstruction strategy will help tsunami-affected communities rebuild their future in a sustainable manner.
Support to reconstruction from CIDA's existing program
CIDA's pre-tsunami program in Sri Lanka was modest, disbursing approximately $10 million per year through all channels, including $5.5 million through the bilateral program. It was, however, active throughout Sri Lanka, including tsunami-affected areas and the conflict-affected North-East.
Over the past decade, primarily NGOs have delivered Canadian assistance. Ongoing programs in tsunami-affected areas that predated the crisis will be expanded to meet emerging needs. These include the following sectors:
- Governance and human rights: Governance programming, currently aimed at basic rights, civil society, and peacebuilding, will add a new dimension: strengthening local government. CIDA will also expand programs to address the physical and psychological harm suffered by children as a result of the tsunami, and their increased vulnerability to exploitation in its aftermath. In addition, CIDA will provide technical assistance and funding to community-based organizations and local governments to ensure affected communities are more involved in needs assessment, priority setting, and development and implementation of reconstruction plans.
- Gender equality: CIDA is finalizing the project Women Defining Peace, which will help Sri Lankan organizations address gender-based violence and integrate gender equality into processes for reconstruction and peace.
- Economic well-being: Before the tsunami, economic well-being programs focussed on poor, war-affected, and marginalized communities. CIDA will increase support for sustainable livelihoods in tsunami-affected areas through vocational training, savings and credit, and comprehensive community rehabilitation. Given the increased demand for micro-credit and micro-enterprise development, CIDA may renew programs in these areas as well.
New programming sectors
New programming to support reconstruction will include two new sectors and an additional dimension in the governance sector:
- Environmental rehabilitation and management: The tsunami caused significant environmental damage in Sri Lanka, including the potential destruction of fish habitat and spawning grounds, as well as damage to agriculture land. Since Canada has expertise in the rehabilitation of agricultural land, CIDA is exploring how it could support reconstruction in this sector.
- Fisheries: Based on a needs assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization, Canadian expertise could help restore livelihoods for fishing communities, strengthen the capacity of fishery-related community-based organizations, and support special programs to strengthen economic opportunities for women (particularly heads of families) within and outside the fisheries sector.
- Local governance: Canada can help local governments and affected communities play a leadership role in the planning and implementation of reconstruction. Programming in local governance can tap into a wide spectrum of Canadian expertise-from municipalities and provinces to individual experts in such fields as management, planning, public consultation, engineering, environment, and gender equality.
Geographic focus and monitoring
CIDA will consult with other donors and Canadian partners to assess the potential benefits and risks of working in certain districts. CIDA will also ensure a regionally and ethnically balanced response. Finally, CIDA will seek a contractor to monitor the package of initiatives funded under this strategy, and participate in joint monitoring of overall reconstruction efforts in Sri Lanka with other donors.
A Role for Canadian Partners
NGO initiatives supported by matching funds will likely represent the largest component of Canada's reconstruction program in Sri Lanka. Eligible NGOs can choose countries and sectors of intervention, but CIDA will engage NGOs to help develop a coherent Canadian strategy that also complements the efforts of other donors.
Other Canadian partners
When reviewing proposals from partners not eligible for matching funds, CIDA will give priority to areas of focus identified in its strategy. CIDA is engaging municipal and provincial authorities with respect to offers of technical assistance for reconstruction, and will encourage linkages between them and NGOs.
Office for Democratic Governance
Through the Office for Democratic Governance, CIDA will help match Canadian expertise in governance with the needs of tsunami-affected areas. In response to requests from Sri Lankan-based organizations, CIDA will provide technical assistance in such fields as local governance, public participation, language rights, conflict management, and gender equality.
Sri Lankan and international partnerships
CIDA has a long history of supporting the work of Sri Lankan civil society organizations in development and peacebuilding. Such organizations will remain key partners as Canada responds to the tsunami. CIDA will also pursue opportunities for co-financing of projects with multilateral agencies and other donors as their sectoral interests become clear.