Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Weekly Humanitarian Overview - Galle District No. 1, 4 - 10 Jul 2005

In Galle District, the Tsunami Housing Reconstruction Unit (THRU) opened its office on the 3rd Floor of the District Secretariat on Colombo Road. It is the information room for activities on Tsunami recovery efforts, headed by District Coordinator, Mr Ananda Amaratunga, previously the Coordinator for TAP (Transitional Accommodation Project). Both TAP and THRU are now managed under the same office, reporting directly to the District Secretary, Mr Asoka Jayasekera.

Beneficiary figures have been revised by WFP and the Government for the 2nd Phase of the general food distribution until end of August. After consultative discussions with the government, it was agreed the new figures for Galle District is 102,000 persons, from the previous 128,000. Ration cards for the 2nd Phase are at present being written by Divisional Secretaries. The next distribution will begin with Coupon No. 34.


In the past weeks, UN HABITAT Galle Project Office together with Urban Development Authority (UDA), and more recently THRU office, has conducted eight coordination meetings since end of April on permanent housing on new-site and on original site. The Permanent Housing Working Group has been successful in its progress and had the pleasure to host the presence of Mr Hemantha Jayasundera, Director of Project Management Division from UDA in Colombo, to explain the government procedure on obtaining land, signing of MoUs (valid only with UDA Colombo), and the process of surveying, clearing, and blocking land before construction can begin. Previously, problems of land and MoUs were a hindrance with conflicting information and unsuitable land assigned for construction.

(1)The process of land acquisition involves identifying public land for resettlement, in which private land is needed in order to meet the demands for housing in Galle District. All responsibility of acquisition is with UDA including identification, land value evaluation, negotiation, survey, acquisition and transfer. Unfortunately such a process could take as long as 1 -- 2 years.

(2) The process of land preparation begins with the availability and legality of land, therefore, any land that has been identified but not yet legally acquisitioned, cannot begin construction. Survey of land is conducted by the survey department (parameter and contour), which could take from one week up to one month, and delays may occur due to strikes, or clearing site of debris and vegetation. After which follows the designing of a site plan, blocking out survey, and only then can the land be handed over to the donor for construction.

As at 27 June, only 42 completed land-sites have been officially handed over to donors for construction in Galle District. However, UDA has added that donors are able to speed-up the process by contracting private surveyors/ architects and undertake the steps themselves, subject to approval by UDA.

The situation in Galle District remains that almost all land necessary for permanent housing has been identified, however, the majority of private land is still in the process of acquisition, and public lands are in the process of transfer. According to THRU in Colombo, 1633 houses have begun construction of which 55 are completed on new-site.

As many as 17 international organisations are recorded as having reconstruction/ repairs/ rehabilitation programmes in the Galle District, ranging from completely damaged houses to partially damaged homes of less than 40% beyond the 100m buffer zone. According to the UN HABITAT table of planned Original-Site reconstructions (based on results of a questionnaire), a total of 3,296 housing reconstruction have began work in the Galle District. However, many organizations have not reported their contribution and assistance to neither the local divisional secretaries nor to the Permanent Housing Working Group.

Regular dialogue and discussions with THRU and UDA has eased the progress for permanent housing, and has enabled early identification of potential problems. In addition, UDA Galle and Colombo will begin to keep a progress report and a weekly Donors' list of updated information on permanent housing construction progress. This will be a regular service beginning in July to be provided by THRU in Galle. This week, the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) with its District Support Unit (DSU) have successfully produced maps of locations where new permanent housing sites will be built, as well as maps indicating repairs and reconstruction on original sites. The maps still need more detailed information from all stakeholders to depict the current situation. Please send information on permanent housing construction to UN HABITAT on Ground Floor Galle Municipal Council, or THRU office, 3rd Floor Galle District Secretariat.


TAFREN Consultant for the Livelihood Rapid Income Recovery Programme (RIRP), Mr RB Morapaya, was officially introduced last week and will begin his duties for responsibility of the Livelihood Working Group, taking over from the previous lead agency of UNDP with District Planning Unit. In the last meeting, the forum discussed redundancies and duplication of efforts on distribution of goods, and how it can be minimised. In Telwatte and Peraliya, Hikkaduwa Division, a notice board will be put up at the Divisional Secretariat for beneficiaries to list their needs so organizations can see the demands, cross off any needs that have been met. TAFREN is confident that the new livelihoods database will minimize duplication of efforts in livelihoods and will display details of the affected population and their needs systematically.

Beneficiary lists for coir industry projects was a topic of discussion whereby organizations were finding beneficiary lists provided by Divisional Secretaries were often inaccurate and did not have genuine applicants for such projects. This was also the case for beneficiary lists for fishing bicycles. Government departments are struggling to provide these lists due to constraints of human resources and capacity.

The Sri Lankan Red Cross Society have continued to carry out cash for work programmes in Balapitiya, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa and Habbaraduwa, and vocational trainings for carpenters, electricians, and masonry workers in various areas.

World Vision has repaired 40 shops in Katugoda, Galle Four Gravats Division. The government has not provided the stalls with electricity, therefore World Vision are providing electricity through a generator as a temporary solution. These shops are free of charge for the keepers for at least one year, and have assisted almost 35 shops to re-open over the last month.


More participation of national-based organizations was achieved at the last Water and Sanitation Working Groiup with attendance by Sewa Lanka, the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and Sarvodaya. A big effort is on-going to produce maps for water tanks and bowser routes for water distribution in the Galle District. The maps that have been provided by the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWS&DB) are being used by Project Galle, Hikkaduwa Aid Information Centre, and HIC for use in gathering coordinates for the GPS survey. The Water Supply Request Form used to monitor and supervise the distribution is checked weekly through the Divisional Secretaries.

The Peraliya train wreckage is still blocking drainage in the area. A letter has been issued on behalf of the Watsan Working Group by OCHA to the Governor of the Southern Province, Honorable Governor Kingsley Wickramaratne, to seek advice on who would be the government department responsible to assist on finding a solution to take this problem forwards.

On another pressing issue, a temporary disposal site was approved by the Government, although further discussions are needed to coordinate disposal on to only one site, including an assessment of latrines that need immediate emptying (location and number). It is important to note the limited capacity of the disposal pits, foreseeing the emergency need to identify more sites.

There have been fruitful discussions of NWS&DB coordination for water bowsers with Sewa Lanka, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and Sarvodaya -- organisations delivering water to communities; the importance of coordination between organisations supplying water has been emphasised as it is essential to identify duplications of water supply, and to address shortages of water. All agencies and organisations have provided NWS&DB with lists of water deliveries as a first step to better coordination.

The Watsan Working Group are also looking at solid waste management initiatives, sustainable independent water supply system, and also looking into upgrading water facilities that were built earlier during the emergency phase, which may need improvement. This should be in line with transitional shelter upgrading and the need for watsan upgrades on those shelter sites.


The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) have opened their office in Galle District, situated at the DDA Office in Labuduwa. The main focus of FAO's activities will be to collect data and information on fisheries and agriculture sector, as well as livestock. Discussions with the District Secretary have led to an understanding that a more focused approach to fisheries be taken, and a separate working group may be established within the month of July in cooperation with the Fisheries Department to concentrate on the biggest livelihood sector in the coastal districts. It is envisaged that in future efforts for fisheries, it will be collectively managed through Fisheries Cooperative Societies or Fisheries Inspector Divisions. FAO have completed their first data collection with information available on number of boat and engine repairs in Galle District as at May 30 (data available through FAO and OCHA office), and status of boat repairs. Most of the information has been provided through CEYNOR.

The Participatory Development Foundation Centre (PDFC) are also present in Galle District and have expressed their main interest in agriculture and animal livestock, carrying out awareness programmes for better practices in those sectors.


The HIC DSU in Galle District is situated in the OCHA office and is supported by staff from Colombo who will come regularly to Galle, consisting of a GIS Manager, GIS Assistant, Database Officer to produce GIS (Geographical Information System) maps. This week, HIC have produced maps that indicate locations of organisations building permanent houses on new sites, and repairs and reconstruction on original site. In the coming weeks, HIC will aim to produce more informative maps with GN level and sub-sector information. Priorities include mapping of all water wells, water supply channels, and livelihood activities. A project for taking geographic coordinates of water sources is being undertaken by various NGOs who have been provided with GPS equipment. All agencies and organizations are encouraged to indicate P-Codes wherever possible. GN level P-Codes are available at the OCHA office, or on the HIC website:


04 Jul 2005 - Unicef media release 18 Jun 05
04 Jul 2005 - Galle Meeting schedule 04 - 08 Jul
04 Jul 2005 - Matara meeting minutes 27 May
04 Jul 2005 - Trincomalee Water and Sanitation Coordination Technical Meeting 30 Jun 05
04 Jul 2005 - Health Coordination Meeting 27Jun 05
04 Jul 2005 - Trincomalee Shelter Meeting minutes 29 Jun 05
04 Jul 2005 - Sarvodaya - Tsunami to Deshodaya; Six Months and Beyond
01 Jul 2005 - Updated W3 Maps with reports


AMURT International inaugurated 10 newly built transitional shelters on Paragahakumbura Land (previously the Dadalla IDP Camp) in addition to the 40 already completed on the same site in early May. Amurt International plan to build permanent houses on the same land.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit