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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

Putting lives back together in Sri Lanka

ReliefWeb - Document Preview : "Putting lives back together in Sri LankaNow that most of the emergency needs of the tsunami survivors have been met, the focus is shifting to the long term.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 8, 2005) -- With much of the emergency relief needs of tsunami survivors now met, the focus shifts to what the head of a relief agency calls "the really hard part -- putting peoples' lives and their shattered communities back together".

Lelei LeLaulu, president of the humanitarian and development organization, Counterpart International, said they were concentrating on a "ridge to reef" restoration" starting at sea with the fishing community which was badly hit by tidal waves.

Then there are the devastated coral reefs where the fish dwell and which creates sand and beaches.

Onshore, LeLaulu said a sustainable tourism industry should be built rather than "re-building mistakes" of non sustainable tourism.

The development agency's "Sri Lanka Tsunami Redevelopment program" is also rebuilding 500 family houses and 25 public buildings, such as schools, clinics, and cooperatives.

"Our job is not just to rebuild houses, but to introduce new construction technology which is environmentally sustainable and economically viable. We will also train local builders how to use this technology," explained Dr. Thoric Cederström, Counterpart's Vice President of Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture.

With support from Forrester Construction as well as private individual donations, Counterpart will soon begin building the first two model houses under the direction of its Senior Scientist, Dr. Ranil Senanayake, the director of Counterpart operations on the ground in his native Sri Lanka.

"We are working on how to introduce building technologies that utilize locally available, low-cost materials such as bamboo, coconut, and swamp palm," said Dr. Cederström whose team is in discussions about bringing Counterpart staff to Sri Lanka from the Philippines where the technologies are readily available. Once the model houses are built, Counterpart expects to raise up to 500 more as well as advocate these construction methods for other Sri Lankan coastal dwellings.

Counterpart will also rebuild or repair schools using the same building techniques and has set up a school-to-school program where U.S. schools can adopt part or all of the rebuilding costs for a sister school in Sri Lanka. "We have arrangements with schools in Kansas City, New York City and Southern California," noted Dr. Cederström who is talking with the National Association of Independent Schools about partnering with schools in their network.

To contribute to the "Sri Lanka's Redevelopment", visit www.counterpart.org. "

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