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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, April 23, 2005

Designing for Tsunamis

Designing for Tsunamis: Seven Principles for Planning and Designing for Tsunami Hazards is the report of the multi-state mitigation project of the US National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP). Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Eventhough the report focuses on the US pacific region it contains many interesting and import view points that may even be applicable to Indian ocean countries such as Sri Lanka. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the report.

The purpose of these guidelines is to help coastal communities in the five Pacific states—Alaska,
California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington— understand their tsunami hazards, exposure, and
vulnerability, and to mitigate the resulting risk through land use planning, site planning, and
building design. Emergency response and evacuation are only discussed in these guidelines as they relate to land use, siting, and building design and construction issues. These guidelines are intended for use by local elected, appointed, and administrative officials involved in planning, zoning, building regulation, community redevelopment, and related land use and development functions in coastal communities. The guidelines should also be helpful to state officials having similar responsibilities.

These guidelines are organized according to seven basic principles:
Principle 1: Know your community’s tsunami risk: hazard, vulnerability, and exposure
Principle 2: Avoid new development in tsunami run-up areas to minimize future tsunami losses
Principle 3: Locate and configure new development that occurs in tsunami run-up areas to minimize future tsunami losses
Principle 4: Design and construct new buildings to minimize tsunami damage
Principle 5: Protect existing development from tsunami losses through redevelopment, retrofit, and land reuse plans and projects
Principle 6: Take special precautions in locating and designing infrastructure and critical facilities to minimize tsunami damage

For each principle, the discussion includes background information on the topic, recommended
process steps for implementing the principle, and specific how-to strategies. Several case studies in the guidelines illustrate how communities in the Pacific region are addressing tsunami hazards. The guidelines also contain references and contacts for obtaining further information about planning for tsunami hazards. More detailed information on each of the topics discussed in the guidelines is contained in a companion set of background papers that were compiled during the preparation of these guidelines.
Download the full report


Blogger Dr. T. Gallant said...

June, 2005





I just returned from my second trip to Sri Lanka. The first one was at the end of January, 5 weeks after the devastation of the Tsunami. At that time I went as an independent medical doctor ministering to the needs of the inhabitants along the coast of Sri Lanka. During that trip I became acutely aware that the medical needs, while important at that time, were not the issues that would be plaguing the residents in the long term. That is when the idea of helping to provide them with the means to support themselves and their extended families became the central goal propelling me on this next project. Since all those coastal communities who relied on fishing for their livelihood had their boats destroyed by the Tsunami, this was an obvious place to start. While there in January, I purchased one fishing boat with a net in a small village of 8 families, a boat that was to be shared by all in a cooperative fashion. A commitment was then made by me to return, this time with a boat for each family.



During the next 3 months my goal was to collect enough money to go back to that village and to extend the venture even further in other small communities. Over this period of time, it became evident through various media outlets and my contacts in Sri Lanka, very little of the generous donations given by concerned people worldwide, had reached the destinations for which it was intended. Documentaries, newspapers and magazines all provided similar stories. My wife and I tried to contact various aid agencies and even CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency] in order to work together to raise money for this venture. CIDA does not work with individuals and other agencies required a certain percentage of what we collected for their administration fees. So we set out on our own, knowing full well that we could not offer any charitable donation receipts. Nonetheless, we managed to collect 14,000 US dollars from individuals in Canada, France and Hong Kong, as well as companies in Canada and the United States.



I set out for Sri Lanka on May 16th and returned 3 weeks later on June 4th. During this time, I closed my medical practice and put the rest of my life on hold. Two days after I left on my journey, my mother in law, Ray Goldin, passed away in Montreal. My first instinct was to catch the next flight out of Colombo to be with Lee Ann, my wife during this difficult time. She encouraged me to stay and carry on with this project that Ray also supported. I then decided to dedicate this mission to her life which was spent in volunteering and charitable works. The people who are the recipients of these boats will say a prayer in her memory each time they go out to fish.



As soon as I set out along the coast, it became clear that very little had changed in the 6 months since the Tsunami struck this already impoverished country. Although the colour was greener, people were still living in tents and temporary huts with no water or toilets, still sitting by the side of the road, and still scrounging for food to feed their families. The prevailing mood was one of despair and hopelessness because, now, it was 6 months later and nothing had changed. They still could not work or feel like providers for their families. Something needed to be done quickly to reverse this depression and lethargy that had set in among the people.



It became clearer as time passed that the only way to determine the needs in a small community was to spend time there talking with the local people, to find out exactly what their needs are, from the methods they use to fish as well as who the neediest ones are. An example of errors made by well intentioned donors is that of boats donated without fishing nets or stoves without connections to the gas tanks, leaving perfectly good equipment that is useless to the people who have no means to find missing parts not provided. Also, not all communities fish the same way. One village I visited along the way uses spear fishing as their preferred method. Six sets of equipment were given to them. This included masks, snorkels, fins, underwater flashlights with batteries and spear guns. Also, in order for the fish to be sold at market, a total of 8 bicycles with baskets to carry the fish were donated in a number of villages.



This individual attention is the only way to assess a situation in an equitable manner since the poverty is so pervasive. For example, in one small village of 20 families, there was enough money to have 6 boats made and purchase nets for all of those boats. No doubt, all were deserving of help, but after questioning them, it was decided that those people without family members with means of livelihood, would be the first recipients. The most vocal people attracted the most attention to themselves. One 16 year old boy stood quietly on the edge of the circle of men. Until his mother quietly pulled my interpreter over to the side, I did not know that this teenager had lost his father and 2 older brothers and was responsible for providing for his mother and 2 younger sisters. Without spending hours there, I would have no access to this kind of information. This, on the ground connection, up close and personal, is the only way to assess the situation fairly.



The first community I visited was Tallala, the village on the south coast where the one fishing boat and net that was given in January was being shared by all 8 families. They proudly showed me the boat and said the cooperation had been successful. They said they had no doubt I would come back. It was an emotional moment for me when I returned to fulfill my promise of providing one boat for each family.



After my mother in law's funeral, as friends and family gathered to give comfort and rejoice in her life, my story was told to those who participated. There was an outpouring of generosity and money for 5 more boats with nets was collected for a village on the east coast. This was a heartwarming surprise and a fitting tribute to her life.



Whenever I was able to provide this equipment I was blessed by the recipients. I kept telling them that I am only a messenger, a conduit for the generous donors who made this all possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who gave anonymously through the TD bank account. For some who we cannot thank personally, please know that 100% of your donations went to the ongoing livelihood of these villagers and will continue for years to come. None of this donated money was used for administrative fees or for my travel or lodging expenses in Sri Lanka.



In summary, 18 new fishing boats with nets, 6 sets of spear gun fishing equipment and 8 bicycles are helping to put 6 villages back on their feet as well as the suppliers of fiberglass for the boats, the molders and the net makers.



As I made my way farther inland, I realized the enormity of the poverty of this country, even the parts not touched by the Tsunami. When exposed to this degree of need, one feels that the road just traveled is not the end of the trail but merely the beginning. I would like to try to gather funds to help local women start small sewing businesses and perhaps sell their wares in the Fair Trade market. In order to donate to this project TD bank has provided us with the following account 522 5211034.



Of course, the fishing boat project is ongoing as all these coastal regions are unchanged in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Please advise us by phone or e-mail if you have a preference for either one or the other project.



In peace and in health,



Tsvi Gallant M.D.



416 741 7412

416 804 7412

tsgallant@yahoo.com  


Blogger Dr. T. Gallant said...

June, 2005





I just returned from my second trip to Sri Lanka. The first one was at the end of January, 5 weeks after the devastation of the Tsunami. At that time I went as an independent medical doctor ministering to the needs of the inhabitants along the coast of Sri Lanka. During that trip I became acutely aware that the medical needs, while important at that time, were not the issues that would be plaguing the residents in the long term. That is when the idea of helping to provide them with the means to support themselves and their extended families became the central goal propelling me on this next project. Since all those coastal communities who relied on fishing for their livelihood had their boats destroyed by the Tsunami, this was an obvious place to start. While there in January, I purchased one fishing boat with a net in a small village of 8 families, a boat that was to be shared by all in a cooperative fashion. A commitment was then made by me to return, this time with a boat for each family.



During the next 3 months my goal was to collect enough money to go back to that village and to extend the venture even further in other small communities. Over this period of time, it became evident through various media outlets and my contacts in Sri Lanka, very little of the generous donations given by concerned people worldwide, had reached the destinations for which it was intended. Documentaries, newspapers and magazines all provided similar stories. My wife and I tried to contact various aid agencies and even CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency] in order to work together to raise money for this venture. CIDA does not work with individuals and other agencies required a certain percentage of what we collected for their administration fees. So we set out on our own, knowing full well that we could not offer any charitable donation receipts. Nonetheless, we managed to collect 14,000 US dollars from individuals in Canada, France and Hong Kong, as well as companies in Canada and the United States.



I set out for Sri Lanka on May 16th and returned 3 weeks later on June 4th. During this time, I closed my medical practice and put the rest of my life on hold. Two days after I left on my journey, my mother in law, Ray Goldin, passed away in Montreal. My first instinct was to catch the next flight out of Colombo to be with Lee Ann, my wife during this difficult time. She encouraged me to stay and carry on with this project that Ray also supported. I then decided to dedicate this mission to her life which was spent in volunteering and charitable works. The people who are the recipients of these boats will say a prayer in her memory each time they go out to fish.



As soon as I set out along the coast, it became clear that very little had changed in the 6 months since the Tsunami struck this already impoverished country. Although the colour was greener, people were still living in tents and temporary huts with no water or toilets, still sitting by the side of the road, and still scrounging for food to feed their families. The prevailing mood was one of despair and hopelessness because, now, it was 6 months later and nothing had changed. They still could not work or feel like providers for their families. Something needed to be done quickly to reverse this depression and lethargy that had set in among the people.



It became clearer as time passed that the only way to determine the needs in a small community was to spend time there talking with the local people, to find out exactly what their needs are, from the methods they use to fish as well as who the neediest ones are. An example of errors made by well intentioned donors is that of boats donated without fishing nets or stoves without connections to the gas tanks, leaving perfectly good equipment that is useless to the people who have no means to find missing parts not provided. Also, not all communities fish the same way. One village I visited along the way uses spear fishing as their preferred method. Six sets of equipment were given to them. This included masks, snorkels, fins, underwater flashlights with batteries and spear guns. Also, in order for the fish to be sold at market, a total of 8 bicycles with baskets to carry the fish were donated in a number of villages.



This individual attention is the only way to assess a situation in an equitable manner since the poverty is so pervasive. For example, in one small village of 20 families, there was enough money to have 6 boats made and purchase nets for all of those boats. No doubt, all were deserving of help, but after questioning them, it was decided that those people without family members with means of livelihood, would be the first recipients. The most vocal people attracted the most attention to themselves. One 16 year old boy stood quietly on the edge of the circle of men. Until his mother quietly pulled my interpreter over to the side, I did not know that this teenager had lost his father and 2 older brothers and was responsible for providing for his mother and 2 younger sisters. Without spending hours there, I would have no access to this kind of information. This, on the ground connection, up close and personal, is the only way to assess the situation fairly.



The first community I visited was Tallala, the village on the south coast where the one fishing boat and net that was given in January was being shared by all 8 families. They proudly showed me the boat and said the cooperation had been successful. They said they had no doubt I would come back. It was an emotional moment for me when I returned to fulfill my promise of providing one boat for each family.



After my mother in law's funeral, as friends and family gathered to give comfort and rejoice in her life, my story was told to those who participated. There was an outpouring of generosity and money for 5 more boats with nets was collected for a village on the east coast. This was a heartwarming surprise and a fitting tribute to her life.



Whenever I was able to provide this equipment I was blessed by the recipients. I kept telling them that I am only a messenger, a conduit for the generous donors who made this all possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who gave anonymously through the TD bank account. For some who we cannot thank personally, please know that 100% of your donations went to the ongoing livelihood of these villagers and will continue for years to come. None of this donated money was used for administrative fees or for my travel or lodging expenses in Sri Lanka.



In summary, 18 new fishing boats with nets, 6 sets of spear gun fishing equipment and 8 bicycles are helping to put 6 villages back on their feet as well as the suppliers of fiberglass for the boats, the molders and the net makers.



As I made my way farther inland, I realized the enormity of the poverty of this country, even the parts not touched by the Tsunami. When exposed to this degree of need, one feels that the road just traveled is not the end of the trail but merely the beginning. I would like to try to gather funds to help local women start small sewing businesses and perhaps sell their wares in the Fair Trade market. In order to donate to this project TD bank has provided us with the following account 522 5211034.



Of course, the fishing boat project is ongoing as all these coastal regions are unchanged in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Please advise us by phone or e-mail if you have a preference for either one or the other project.



In peace and in health,



Tsvi Gallant M.D.



416 741 7412

416 804 7412

tsgallant@yahoo.com  


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