Sri Lanka

UNICEF Situation Report Sri Lanka 4 Apr 2005

UNICEF highlights

  • UNICEF and UNHCR to release findings of a rapid assessment of IDPs preferences with regard to relocation and resettlement

  • 237 temporary/semi-permanent school shelters under construction in the country. 97 already completed.

  • Water bladders, pumps and tanks dispatched to Ampara and Killinochchi

  • Representatives of the Clinton Foundation visit UNICEF Sri Lanka on a fact-finding mission to understand the water and sanitation sector response


Situation of IDPs

Killinochchi/Mullativu zone office reports that the transit camps in its area of responsibility are absorbing more and more IDPs as people who were residing with host families appear to be moving into transit camps. The zone office in Batticaloa suggested similar IDP movement last week when it indicated that 75 IDP families formerly living with relatives moved into the transitional IDP camp at Aarayampathy. A continuation of this trend may require a re-planning of water and sanitation construction in affected transitional camps.

In Batticaloa, the zone office reports that a relocation strategy coordinated by UNHCR has been developed for the relocation of an initial 75 families to the Navalady/Muhathuvaram isthmus on the windward side of the Batticaloa lagoon. It is envisaged that the families will be housed in tents for six to seven weeks while materials for the building of transitional shelters are provided. Relocation from temporary IDP camps is expected to commence in two weeks. UNICEF will provide 60 tarpaulins for communal shaded areas at the Zahira College transitional camp.

The zone office in the South reports that the identification of land for the transitional shelter of IDP families in Matara is slow. Land has been identified for 300 out of the 1,800 families said to be living "in difficult circumstances", most of whom are reportedly sheltered in tents.

Visit of Clinton Foundation

Four representatives of the Clinton Foundation are in Sri Lanka this week to assess the water and sanitation situation. This visit is being conducted as part of the newly established partnership to address emergency needs for safe water and sanitation as well as long-term health and development goals for families and communities. Team members will meet with representatives of the Urban Development and Water Supply, UN agencies and NGOs. They will travel to Ampara, Batticaloa and Matara to view first-hand the water and sanitation emergency response and to meet with local authorities in these districts.

Needs Assessments

UNHCR/UNICEF Rapid Needs Assessment of IDPs

UNHCR and UNICEF will release a report of a rapid needs assessment of IDPs on 6 April. The survey, excerpts of which were shared with UN agencies, NGOs and donors on 4 April, comprises interviews with over 300 families in Ampara, Galle and Jaffna, 226 of which were IDP families and the remaining 76 host families. The objectives of the survey were to identify some of the major concerns

and wishes of families displaced by the tsunami and to assess the extent of information they possessed about the recovery/reconstruction process.

Initial findings from the survey indicate that IDPs have little detailed information about relocation and resettlement plans apart from an elementary understanding of the Coastal Buffer Zone (CBZ). In many instances, families have voiced that they are unwilling to return to their former residences due to a fear of the sea. When they have indicated that they do wish to return, it is often contingent on the return of other members of their communities. Overall, IDPs wish to be relocated/resettled in close proximity to their former places of work and to their children's schools and also wish that basic facilities are in place. IDPs have also noted that they require cash assistance as well as building materials and land to return/resettle.

The majority of IDPs indicated that they do not want to stay in camps and, for women and children as well as single fathers, transitional shelter in camps was not viewed as a tenable option. Instead, IDPs preferred staying with host families, which in most cases meant relatives. It was also clear from the responses of interviewees that IDPs preferred cadjan-style transitional housing over tents, be they in camps or with host families, and they also stressed the need for strengthened water and sanitation facilities.

The full report will be available through UNHCR or UNICEF and will also be posted on the HIC website (

Phase II Joint Assessment of District Implementation Mechanism

District teams have now submitted a second draft of their reports to the Technical Support Committee. These reports are being analyzed and compiled for a summary report expected for release in mid-April.

UNICEF Response

Water and Sanitation

Equipment dispatched to Ampara and Killinochchi

Fifteen water bladders have been dispatched to Ampara and an additional ten to Killinochchi; each of these districts also received fifteen water pumps. A water tanker was received last week in Killinochchi to service the IDP camps in Vaddamarachi East. The arrival of the water tanker is important as past records show that as many as 60 percent of wells will run dry during the period from July to August.

Hygiene promotion coordination in Killinochchi/Mullativu

UNICEF is participating in the newly formed Hygiene Promotion Working Group for Vaddamarachi East, Killinochchi and Mullativu. Its first meeting was held last week to discuss promotion activities for IDPs in transitional camps, for IDPs living with host families, and for children in schools. The DPDHS and the Zonal Directors of Education have been very supportive of planned hygiene promotion activities and are in the process of developing comprehensive hygiene promotion packages.

On-going WES activities in Batticaloa

The construction of a second bathing facility was completed in Aarayampathy, Batticaloa. The construction of another two bathing areas is still underway. On the request of the DS Manmunai North, the construction of five out of ten toilets in a new IDP location site is completed. This brings the total number of toilets constructed in the district to 137. Ten small water stands for tanks and six big stands have been constructed and placed in IDP camps.

Health and Nutrition

UNICEF investigates media report of disease outbreaks in Kinniya, Trincomalee

Following a media report of an outbreak of disease in the IDP camps of Kinniya, Trincomalee early last week, UNICEF has reviewed the situation in Kinniya and can confirm that there is no increase in disease figures. See below a comparison of the reports covering the population of Kinniya (8,241) over the past three weeks from the regional epidemiologist's office.

Epidemiological report figures for Kinniya (5 through 25 March)
Number of cases
reported (5-11
Number of cases
reported (12-18
Number of cases
reported (19-25
Cumulative cases
since 26
Dengue Fever
Chicken Pox

Still, given the heat and rains, the relocation of IDPs, and a pre-tsunami situation of poor sanitation in the area, there is the possibility of a deteriorating situation in Kinniya, and UNICEF is taking action to prevent this.

With regard to overall coordination, UNICEF, jointly with UNHCR, is advocating for a re-activation of previous district coordination mechanisms in Trincomalee. UNICEF's response in terms of health and water and sanitation support has also included the provision of emergency health kits, water purification tablets, oral re-hydration salt sachets, material for the construction of latrines, rental of water bowsers, and the provision of one gully bowser.

The zone office has also played a key role in developing water and sanitation standards and in training public health inspectors in the district. In addition, UNICEF has supported the district-wide assessment of the water and sanitation situation in all IDP camps of the district (see Situation Report 28 March 2005 for initial findings of that assessment). Most recently, UNICEF has contributed to a training on shelter management with information on how water and sanitation can be integrated into transitional and permanent shelter planning.

MRI/WFP/UNICEF plan for second round of nutritional surveillance

The Medical Research Institute (MRI), WFP and UNICEF are planning for a second joint nutritional surveillance exercise scheduled for the end of April. The first assessment took place in January during which 900 IDPs in camps were assessed. This second round surveillance will sample the nutritional situation of 2,400 persons, with 800 persons assessed in each of the following three groups: tsunami-affected IDPs in camps; tsunami-affected IDPS living with host families; and persons not directly affected by the tsunami. In addition to this second round nutritional surveillance, UNICEF continues to work with the GoSL to facilitate a national policy on nutrition.

Health facility rehabilitation work moves forward for 2004 regular programme

Work on two primary health care (PHC) centres in Gowtharimunai and Kiranji has commenced. These two PHCs centres are among the ten whose construction started under the regular 2004 programme. The construction of the paediatric ward is completed at PU Palli. The opening ceremony for this facility is to be held shortly. As previously reported, the renovation of a blood bank and an operation theatre at DH Killinochchi has commenced.


Construction of temporary/semi-permanent school school structures continues

UNICEF has approved the construction of an additional ten semi-permanent school buildings in Galle, bringing the total number of approved temporary/semi-permanent school shelters in the country to 237.

The zone office in Batticaloa has reported the completion of 15 temporary school buildings in Paddiruppu Zone. An additional 20 temporary school buildings in Batticaloa Zone are expected to be completed later this week.

Sports meet for affected school children in Trincomalee

UNICEF supported a sports meet between tsunami-affected schools in Echilampattai in which 480 students participated. The event was put on in an effort to return children to normalcy. The subcommittee of the Education Development Organization in Echilampattai initiated the activity.

UNICEF facilitates distribution of school kits supplied by two British NGOs

As the chair of the subcommittee on education, UNICEF helped to coordinate the distribution of school kits supplied by two British NGOs and facilitated by a former MP through the GA. UNICEF added a few items to the kits, including rulers, erasers and color pastel. In total, 2,779 school kits were distributed last week. An additional 850 will be distributed this week.

Protection and Psycho-Social Support

UNICEF supports NCPA training of psychosocial trainers

UNICEF has supported a National Child Protection Agency (NCPA) training of trainers this week in Colombo. The training, initiated prior to the tsunami, is meant to provide 20 persons employed by different district-level service providers with psychosocial support training in order that they are able to pass these skills on to psychosocial workers in the field. This first batch of 20 persons from the North East will undergo a five-day training. A second batch of trainers from the South will be trained later this year.

144 family kits delivered in Galle

To date, a total of 144 family kits have been delivered in Galle district by Child Rights Promotion Officers (CRPOs) and Probation Officers (POs) with the support of UNICEF to children who have lost their parents and have been placed with family members through a fit person order. A further 100 kits are to be delivered over the next two days. Through this exercise, UNICEF has been able to verify names of children, addresses and caregivers.

UNICEF facilitates housing of single parent IDP family with relative

The zone office in Killinochchi was approached by a single father last week with two small children. He sought assistance since his sister had refused to accommodate him and his children in Jaffna. UNICEF protection staff took the family to another sister in Akkarayan, Killinochchi where he is now staying. A further assessment will be conducted to ensure that it is a safe environment for the children. Findings from the UNHCR/UNICEF rapid assessment of IDPs indicate that single-parent families do not consider transitional shelter in camps as a tenable option.

Inter-Agency Collaboration



The Country Representative was interviewed by Italian television last week to discuss UNICEF's activities in support of tsunami-affected populations.

The Communications Section is also coordinating with Dutch and Danish documentary teams for the filming of pieces on children in tsunami and non-tsunami affected areas respectively.

Supply and Logistics

A British Airways flight arrived in Colombo on 2 April. It delivered 15 generators, x-ray equipment, glucose, water purification tablets and one rub hall. These items are currently being cleared by customs.

Sixty-two containers of relief items are now with the UNICEF clearing agent. Among the items included in the containers is chlorine testing equipment, much needed in the districts. UNICEF has handed over registration documents to the Ministry of Health for 124 motorbikes, 3 ambulances, and other required vehicles so that it may clear these items.

Next Sitrep:

Monday, 11 April 2005