Sri Lanka

UNICEF Situation Report Sri Lanka 17 May 2005

UNICEF highlights

  • UNICEF support to tsunami relief and reconstruction efforts acknowledged in Sri Lanka Development Forum deliberations and continued efforts of partners in implementing Action Plan for Children Affected by Conflict highlighted as cornerstone of peace process

  • Coverage of Vitamin A supplementation campaign in tsunami-affected districts being reported at over 90%

  • Psychosocial support and recreational activities gain momentum

  • Efforts to create child friendly environments in schools and shelters energized

  • Consultations continue in preparation of UN strategy to support post-tsunami transition


Sri Lanka Development Forum, Kandy, 16-17 May’05

UNICEF participated in the Development Forum meeting which focused on post tsunami relief and reconstruction, macro-economic policy of the Government of Sri Lanka and partnership in the peace process. The MDG Report for Sri Lanka was launched at the meeting. In his opening speech the Vice President of the World Bank congratulated all parties for the maintenance of the Cease Fire Agreement for more than three years, and for the continued efforts to implement the Action Plan for Children Affected by Conflict for the last two years, with a plea to protect these two cornerstones of the peace process.

UNICEF Response

Water and Sanitation

Provision of safe water and sanitation facilities

It is estimated that communities and camps in Batticaloa now receive between 12 to 16 litres of water/per person/per day. This meets WHO standards for emergency situations. UNICEF plans to further increase supply to 25 l/p/d. A water treatment plant (with the capacity of purifying 20,000 litres per day) has been installed at the UNICEF constructed water source in Kattankudy by the Italian Red Cross. UNICEF has supplied a diesel pump to Italian Red Cross for use at the plant.

In the Ampara district, work is in progress in the construction of water and sanitation facilities complementing UNHCR transitional shelters. 38 units are being constructed with over 75 toilets, urinals and bathroom facilities. Cleaning of wells in the Ampara district has also progressed with 5,000 wells completed. A further 2,000 will be cleaned in coming weeks. UNICEF Ampara ZO also attended the transitional shelter meeting and discussed the importance of adequate water and sanitation supply. It was agreed that UNHCR would add water and sanitation information to their ‘shelter monitoring matrix’ in order to identify gaps at newly constructed shelter sites.

In Jaffna, the progress on shelter construction has been significant. Out of a planned 3,087 shelters, 2,705 have been completed and construction of a further 382 is in progress. An estimated 2,660 families have moved into these shelters. Safe drinking water is supplied on continual basis to the 72 water tanks available in these shelters with a total capacity of 79,000 litres.

WES projects on human waste disposal

In Batticaloa, site locations are being finalised to allow for sewage treatment plants to be constructed. Meanwhile a temporary location has been found to dispose of sewage in Aryanpathy. Water Board is developing a design for two sewage treatment plants which UNICEF plans to fund. The Septic Tank prototype which was developed by UNICEF is currently being field tested in Trincomalee. One of the key features in the model is the filtering system which benefits villages where the water table is close to the surface level. The filter negates the possibility for contamination of water sources. Further modifications and tests will be conducted and the possibility for local manufacture is being evaluated.

WES training and general progress

On 2 and 3 May UNICEF Zone Office in Trincomalee organized a two days workshop on water quality and wells rehabilitation for government, local and international NGOs operating in Trincomalee. The participation of IWMI (International Water Management Institute) expert on the effects of the tsunami on groundwater, contributed to the workshop in the issuing of new guidelines on well rehabilitation and standards in data collection. Oxfam contributed in the practical exercise on chlorination and provided inputs on stabilization ponds as an option for the safe disposal of the sewage collected with the gully bowsers. The workshop addressed the most urgent issues arising from the construction of the Transit Settlements such as the bacteriological quality of water, and need for chlorination, correct chlorination procedures, and use of the chlorine comparators (distributed by UNICEF), standards in water and sanitation in emergencies, septic tanks construction, well rehabilitation and how to face the problems on salination of the aquifers due to the tsunami, and the safe use of wells in coastal areas.

Health and Nutrition

Safe Motherhood

UNICEF supported a 5-day training programme on emergency obstetric care for medical officers in the Ampara. The training was conducted by the Deputy Director of Health Services in the district on the 3rd of May.

Prevention of vector-borne disease

12,400 mosquito nets, which were handed over by UNICEF to the Deputy Director of Health Services, are being distributed to families in the malaria prevalent areas of Batticaloa District. An increase in Mosquito-borne diseases is likely due to the seasonal North East monsoon rains.

Results of the Vitamin A supplementation campaign

A one day vitamin A supplementation campaign conducted on 30 April 2005 was successfully carried out in 9 tsunami-affected districts. The campaign targeted over 450,000 children between 6 months and 5 years of age. Reports received to date show very high coverage. In Jaffna district the coverage was reported to be 94.9 per cent, in Trincomalee coverage was reported at 94 per cent and Ampara reported 97 per cent. A similar report is expected to come from the remaining districts. UNICEF zone and country office staff conducted monitoring visits on 30 April to health clinics and mobile clinics near IDP camps. NGO’s were also mobilized to assist with monitoring.

Nutrition Status Assessments

In the Jaffna ZO, the second round of the nutrition survey was conducted by Medical Research Institute officials from Colombo, with the support of UNICEF, WFP and Deputy Director of Health Services. A total of 80 families living in shelters were interviewed on the 13 May. Assessments were disrupted in both Batticaloa and Ampara district due to hartal’s (strikes) in the area. Subsequent measures were taken and the survey was reconvened and completed in hartal affected areas.


Access to schooling and progress of reconstruction efforts

UNICEF staff in Batticaloa participated in a meeting on the return of families to Navalady -- the worst tsunami affected area in the district. UNICEF’s designated role is to ensure access for children to education. Short term transportation arrangements -- ferry to three-wheeler to bus -- have been arranged for the children to go to school until the road has been rebuilt. A meeting with the parents, principal, AGA, ZDE and UNICEF has been scheduled for 16 May to discuss where the families will move to and where they would like the school rebuilt. UNICEF has been allocated the reconstruction of this school. UNICEF assisted reconstruction has also commenced in the Kalkudah area for 24 semi-permanent buildings.

School transportation arrangements are being finalized with the New Eastern Bus Company to commence a bus service from Mandanai camp in Ampara to prescribed routes identified by the zonal department of education. The buses will take children from the camp to their respective schools and back. UNICEF will reimburse the ticket costs on a monthly basis.

A meeting was called by Additional Provincial Director of Education, Jaffna on 6 May with Secretary of Education, North East Province and other agencies involved in tsunami related education activities. UNICEF brought slow process of implementation to the secretary’s attention. The school works branch assures that all construction of temporary classroom will be completed by end May.

Child Friendly Learning and Recreation

Temporary classrooms are being provided for three schools in Akkaraipattu education zone in the Ampara district. Child friendly enclosures have been provided along with partitioning and decoration of school walls. Arrangements are being made to further improve the conditions of all temporary classrooms to create a child friendly environment in both Akkaraipattu and Kalmunai where student attendance has been recorded as 80 and 90 per cent respectively. UNICEF continues to monitor student drop-out rates in both zones. UNICEF has also distributed 66 sports kits to schools in the Kalkudah and Paddiruppu education zones in the Batticaloa district.

In Batticaloa, UNICEF held a discussion with NGO volunteers working in the IDP camps to identify the exact locations for homework spaces and obtain the necessary approval from the relevant authorities. 45 frames in the shape of miniature marquees have already been made, and the volunteers will be working with the children over the next week to ensure their active participation in the placement and design of these spaces.

In child friendly schools initiatives in the Trincomalee district, UNICEF along with the zonal education office participated in a meeting at Al Assar Muslim Vidalayaa located in the China Bay. A positive outcome was the contribution of resources by 225 parents. The school library which was supported by UNICEF was also opened as part of the project. A student health committee has been established in this school and is supporting initiatives to keep the school environment and sanitation facilities clean.

UNICEF held two meetings (in Muthur East and Kinniya) to consult with 35 principals from Child Friendly schools and tsunami affected schools on developing recreational activities in the schools. Two more meetings will be held for principals from Trincomalee and Kanthalai zones.

The advanced level weekend classes for arts stream are ongoing for 38 schools in Trincomalee. In the last two weeks, the text books for five subjects (Tamil, Hindu culture, Islam, Political Science and Geography) were distributed. Advance level books were also distributed to all targeted schools.

Protection and Psycho-Social Support

Issue of children’s land rights

The issue of children’s land rights is now being increasingly highlighted by child protection actors. Many of the children registered as having lost parents are entitled to land as inheritance in the buffer zone. There is the issue of ensuring that they receive their entitlements, and ascertaining that guardians do not abuse this right. UNICEF Batticaloa agreed to raise this issue with headquarters and perhaps look at implications for programming. Additionally, UNICEF agreed to work with Probation and ESCO to conduct a small study on the numbers of children who might be affected.

Support to Police Desks

UNICEF Batticaloa provided 7 bicycles for each of the 7 Women and Children’s Police Desks in Batticaloa. These bicycles will assist officers to be more mobile and improve follow-up and response to cases of abuse. The Women and Children’s Police Desks also organized a meeting initiated by UNICEF and CARE on the Campaign against Domestic Violence. Participants agreed to a month long campaign, with a focus on the importance of family unity, as well as to stress positive messages. It was also agreed that the Campaign should support the Women’s Committee for Disaster Management initiative to support camp and village level Action Groups to prevent violence.

Ampara ZO held discussions with the police on UNICEF’s support to the Children’s and Women’s Police Desks in accessing the camps and communities. Progress is being made in the preventative and follow up of tsunami protection related activities and general child protection in the community.

Latest UAM statistics

Of the unaccompanied children (see below table), all 18 have had follow-up assessments completed. Of the separated children, 1,342 have had follow-up assessments completed and 309 have benefited from Fit Persons court orders. Of the children who have lost one parent, 3,567 have received follow-up visits and 328 have benefited from Fit Persons court orders. Some 2,548 family kits have been distributed to these children.

The latest figures on unaccompanied and separated children and children who lost one parent are as follows:

Unaccompanied and Separated children in Sri Lanka as of 12th May 2005
Number of unaccompanied children
Number of separated children
Number of children lost one parent

Children’s Festival

3,000 children from 4 divisions came together to organize the Batticaloa Children’s Festival, 6-8 May. Almost 40 organizations participated and in the words of a visiting dignitary, “In 7 years of working in

Sri Lanka, I have never seen this many organizations come together to hold such an event.” Children from tsunami affected camps learnt about hygiene, jumped on the bouncing castle, played on the water slide, had snacks and watched clowns and singers perform, and all together had a lovely time. The festival was organized with the intent of creating a space for children to express themselves in a fun, positive and creative manner. A subsequent meeting with children’s volunteers has documented lessons learned for future initiatives.

Psycho-Social Support to children and families

UNICEF Ampara ZO chaired the fortnightly psychosocial forum attended by NGOS, INGOs, Deputy Director of Health Services (DPDHS) and the Mental Health Unit. This week’s psychosocial meetings focused on the mapping of agencies psychosocial activities in Ampara and provided updates on UNICEF’s Tsunami awareness educational materials and mainstreaming psychosocial activities through schools.

Progress in Recreational activities in Transitional Shelters

A field monitoring visit was made to 7 welfare centers in Eachilampatu in the Trincomalee district to monitor psychosocial activities and the Vitamin A vaccination campaign. In all of the 7 welfare centers, ICRC volunteers and health workers were vaccinating children. More than 50 per cent of the expected number of children had been vaccinated before mid day with a final coverage of 90 per cent. Recreational activities are ongoing in all of the camps visited with AHAM and Sri Lankan Red Cross volunteers facilitating the activities in the camps. SLRC volunteers have been trained by UNICEF Trincomalee.

Monitoring visits were conducted with officials of the Mental Health Unit and district secretariat (DS) in which coordination and mainstreaming of psychosocial activities into government initiatives was discussed. A request was made for all transitional shelters to make provision for children’s space for recreation and other children’s activities. According to the DS, Kinniya does not have enough land for the construction of transitional shelters, despite this they committed to make children’s spaces a priority in all constructions.

The CENT network in the Trincomalee ZO had a one day workshop on how to address the issues of men in the welfare centers. The workshop was organized by the Mental Health Unit and was attended by all partners. At the end of the workshop, a great amount of information had been generated about the needs of men and how to include them in psychosocial programmes.

Monitoring visits were also conducted in the Wholistic Health Centre implemented activities in Jaffna ZO. Three groups that were met were involved in activities ranging from drama, singing, discussions, games and leadership training. Some of the young people in the group had been fishermen before the tsunami and were now interested to learn other skills and attend vocational training activities.

Developments in District Child Protection

The first divisional child protection committee meeting was held in Kanthalai, Trincomalee. The role of the DCPC, documentation of abuses and networking with other agencies and institutions such as the Department of Social Welfare, the Women and Children’s Police Desk and NGOs was discussed. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Women and Children’s Desk of the Kanthalai Police, The Deputy Director of the Zonal Education Office, NGOs, the Divisional Secretary and Assistant Divisional Secretary, the Probation Officers and Child Rights Promotion Officers for Kanthalai and one Coordinator from the Trincomalee DCPC.