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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. 

Friday, March 11, 2005

Humanitarian Situation Report: 04 - 10 March 2005

ReliefWeb-Document Preview:
Overall situation
The IMF approved US$155 million in emergency assistance.
On a trip to Batticaloa District on 9 March, Margareta Wahlstrom, Special Coordinator for UN Response to Tsunami-Affected Countries, Miguel Bermeo, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Country Resident Representative and OCHA staff visited tsunami damaged areas, temporary shelter camps and a site where semi-permanent shelters are under construction for 2,200 families formally from coastal fishing communities. They were also briefed by the General Agent for Batticaloa and held meetings with staff from UN agencies and the NGO community. Among concerns raised during the visit were the need for the tsunami-affected population to be better informed about their options in terms of shelter and relocation and the need for greater flexibility by donors and others in defining tsunami-affected population to include those people, who, while physically untouched by the destruction, live close by and are feeling its economic consequences.
On 10 March, the sea level in Sirigama area, Hikkaduwa Division (Galle District) was reported to be unusually high for this time of the year due to storms and high winds off the coast. They have caused some road flooding and some shelter tents in the Sirigama area are reported to be inundated.

Challenge and response
Under its "Equal Access to Justice" project. UNDP has been organizing, in cooperation with the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, mobile documentation "clinics." These clinics respond to the very large umber of people who lost all their personal documentation, ie. identification cards, birth and marriage certificates, school diplomas, etc. The clinics consist of teams of officials who travel to the affected areas with all the required equipment to directly record requests for replacement documentation, and spare people the cost and time of having to travel to Colombo. So far, some 20,000 requests have been recorded and are either in the stage of being verified or new documentation already issued.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has signed with UNFPA a memo of understanding to restore reproductive health services in seven districts including Trincomalee, Kilinochchi, Hambantota, Galle, Ampara, Mulaitivu and Kalutara. A number of Gramodaya (village) health centres will be reconstructed and/or renovated as well as MOH offices and some maternity and neonatal complexes.
On 7 March, UNICEF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health for the rehabilitation and/or construction of health facility units in 34 locations in 10 districts This will result in improved facilities for delivery, neo-natal and primary health care (including cold chain) services.
The Directorate of Mental Health Services and the Psycho-social and Mental Health Committee, with the support of UNFPA, is developing through a consultative process a curriculum and a set of modules on psych-social issues.
Significant progress has been made in mainstreaming psycho-social activities within the education sector. UNICEF sponsored a one-day teacher support workshop on 7 March to provide refresher training on psycho-social approaches to 150 school advisors. The advisors will be taught how to facilitate group discussions with teachers working in tsunami-affected districts. Recent psycho-social activities in the districts include: a half-day workshop on 3 March conducted by the national NGO Shantiham for 25 participants from organizations in Jaffna; a three-day protection and psycho-social training workshop in Jaffna, organized by Save the Children, with participants including probation officers, staff from the Department of Child Protection and from 13 different NGOs; and the establishment of a psycho-social network in Trincomalee that includes, temporarily, a psychiatrist seconded by the Provincial Health Service.
Following a request from the Department of Youth, Elderly, Disabled and Displaced Persons of the Ministry of Health and Sri Lanka College of Ophthalmologists, IOM is launching a pilot project to provide ophthalmologic care to the tsunami-affected population and to strengthen the availability of ophthalmologic services in tsunami-affected areas. The pilot project will include mobile optometric and ophthalmologic teams that will train and enhance the capabilities of local eye-care staff, conduct cataract surgery, and donate surgical equipment and intraocular lenses. The project will initially operate in Hambantota district and, if effective, expand to five additional districts.

Non-food items and shelter
Regarding tents, a government needs assessment conducted by the Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) with participation of UN agencies and NGOs is still-on-going in tsunami-affected areas. A criteria has been established for suitable uses of such tents. The categories are: people still living under plastic sheeting; people living in substandard tents, such as igloo tents, who should have them replaced; people who wish to leave temporary accommodation centres and return to their own land outside the buffer zone and people living with friends and relatives who need more living space on a site/at a house which already has watsan facilities; and administrative use, such as a temporary Government office where facilities were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami.
While customs clearance is a continuing problem some tents have recently been released. According to IOM 522 of its family tents were recently released from customs for distribution in Batticaloa (150) and Ampara district (250). An additional 120 tents were placed in storage awaiting distribution instructions. 428 IOM family tents are presently held at Colombo Sea Port awaiting customs clearance.
IOM reports that it had transported and distributing 618 family tents on behalf of the CNO when it was still in existence -- to Ampara (320), Trincomalee (200) and Batticaloa (98). To date, IOM has procured and distributed a total of 1,172 family tents - 750 to Ampara, 322 to Batticaloa and 100 to Muratuwa. It has also distributed 75 big community tents in Ampara, Trincomalee and Batticaloa (25 in each district). IOM reported that on 8 March, the Division Secretariat office in Muratuwa requested IOM to provide 498 tents. IOM has since distributed 100. An additional 398 are still needed.
UNHCR has to date delivered 1,993 tents to tsunami-affected areas. At present, UNHCR has 2,500 additional tents at the Port of Colombo which have been granted duty free clearance by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and are awaiting clearance for geographical allocation. A further 5,527 tents (also located at the Port of Colombo) are pending both the duty exemption certificates and clearance for geographical allocation.

In response to requests from NGOs and civil society, UNICEF has developed tsunami awareness materials for use in children’s clubs, community groups and in schools. The materials include a number of posters designed to facilitate discussion among children and parents about natural disasters and to address their questions and fears relating to the tsunami. Some 5,000 copies of the educational material are to be produced, including guidelines that teachers and others can use in discussing the tsunami awareness issues raised by the material.

The results of the Rapid Livelihood Household Survey conducted jointly by ILO and WFP indicate that 80 percent of the tsunami affected households lost their main source of income, and 90 percent of those households that had productive assets saw them destroyed or damaged.
The Ministry of Skills Development and Vocational and Technical Education, in collaboration with the ILO, is undertaking a rapid training needs assessment, with the overall objective of developing a strategic framework to address skills needed for post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction.
An Inter-Ministerial Focus Group, including the Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply and the ILO has been established for Enhanced Employment Initiatives in the Infrastructure Sector. The objective of the Focus Group is to ensure that all government bodies in infrastructure reconstruction use an optimal mix of local resources during the process so as to maximise opportunities for employment of low income and other affected groups.
In a new assessment, FAO estimates total fish production loss due to the tsunami to be 81 000 tonnes, or 28 percent of normal production. It also found that 54 per cent of Sri Lanka’s fishing fleet of 31,663 boats was affected by the tsunami. Thirty-nine per cent, or 12,438 boats, were totally destroyed, while 13 per cent were severely damaged. This number is less than previously reported due to initial overestimates from the fishing community.

The U.S. Department of Labour is providing funding for a programme in which the ILO and UNICEF are collaborating to provide interventions to protect unaccompanied children. At the national level, the ILO's International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the National Child Protection Authority and the Department of Child Care and Probation will cooperate in such child protection. IPEC's field-level interventions will be focussed in the districts of Galle and Trincomalee, where together with selected trade unions and NGO partners, IPEC will provide for the needs of tsunami affected children through the establishment and maintenance of integrated community centres that offer physio-social counselling, remedial and catch-up education, non-formal education, vocational skills training, and recreational therapy facilities. The Ministry of Education will offer services to post-tsunami survivors who desire non-formal education.
UNFPA has established a Gender Desk at the National Committee on Women to strengthen capacities to address and coordinate gender concerns in relation to the post-Tsunami response. It has also facilitated the training of community based women groups to train grassroots women in their communities on risk assessment, documentation and response.
In conjunction with IOM, UNDP is assisting the Sri Lanka Parliament Select Committee on Natural Disasters by providing an expert on IDPs and the Guiding Principles pertaining to IDPs, as well as an expert on national policy and management of natural disaster preparedness and mitigation.

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