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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Conference on the Tsunami at Columbia's SIPA

Amardeep Singh: " On Friday I went to a conference at Columbia on the seismic, social, and political impact of the Tsunami at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. The schedule can be found here.

I missed the morning panel on the seismic impact of the Tsunami. However, I did come across this article at the Guardian, which discusses it.

Afshan Khan, of UNICEF, gave the keynote address, highlighting her organization's efforts to assist children affected by the Tsunami. She made the point that in many of the affected areas, there were severe problems in terms of security and quality of life even before the Tsunami. One example is the water supply, which was talked about as a concern after the Tsunami wave left salt in fresh water sources. In many places in Southeast Asia, there were severe problems in the water supply even before the Tsunami.

Another issue much talked about in the coverage of the Tsunami was the danger that recently-orphaned children might be abducted by child-traffickers. Khan argued that this isn't as big a problem as has been reported, largely because many of the children who lost parents are being looked after by extended family. Moreover, there were significant problems in the trafficking of children all throughout Southeast Asia before the Tsunami as well.

Vector-borne diseases. One of the morning speakers alluded to the relief that many aid workers have felt that the explosion in diseases like malaria, cholera, and Denge fever, which the WHO had predicted soon after the Tsunami hit, have not materialized. With malaria, the Tsunami actually helped to slow the disease, as mosquitoes can't breed in brackish water. (See this link at Tsunami Help)

Khan added that here, as with water and child protection, there are actually opportunities to "leverage up" the quality of living in the wake of the Tsunami. That is to say, the influx of aid money and the current attention on the above problems can be an opportunity to raise standards to a level above where they were before the tsunami. Khan gave examples on how this might work with regard to fighting vector-born diseases (she mentioned the increased use of bed-nets). But she didn't say much about how this "leverage up" strategy might work in terms of fighting child-trafficking in particular." Read More


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