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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, April 08, 2005

OCHA Mid Term Review

Find below the executive summary of the OCHA Mid Term Review. The report contains a review of the current plans and reviews, revisions to the common humanitarian action plan, and a table listing current projects and their estimated budgets.

The tsunamis triggered by last December’s massive earthquakes off the coast of northern Sumatra caused unprecedented casualties and damage. The response too was unprecedented. The reaction of foreign governments, UN, NGOs, the Red Cross movement and individual donors across the world exceeded in scale and scope the response to any other natural disaster in history.

Requirements for Sri Lanka through the Indian Ocean Flash Appeal totalled US$ 157,250,671 (UN only – US$ 155,723,646) and as of 1 March 2005, contributions had reached US$ 128,478,571 (UN – US$ 122,258,657)1. Funding level stands at 77% (total shortfall – US$ 39.4 million, UN only – US$ 34 million). While humanitarian emergency operations have been in general well funded (see table of MTR Budget Revisions by agency), sectors such as critical infrastructure/environment, shelter/NFIs, restoration of livelihoods, agriculture and capacity building remain under funded.

Immediate emergency humanitarian needs have generally been met in terms of quantity. Vast operations in the aftermath of the disaster succeeded in preventing further deaths. Direct food distribution and the introduction of ration cards served to avoid famine and collective health initiatives managed to stop any outbreaks of disease. As the Flash Appeal was launched on 6 January, 637 camps and welfare centres as well as thousands of relatives and friends provided temporary shelter to 572,578 displaced persons.

To date, in most affected areas, people have been given access to sufficient and adequate water supplies, although in many camps, the standard of sanitation facilities has not yet reached an acceptable level. The clearing of debris has been completed along the main roads and temporary measures are in place where road access is deemed essential. Early recovery efforts have included capacity building and the restoration of health and educational facilities, infrastructure and sanitation. More than 85% of the children in tsunami-affected areas are back in school. Furthermore, general food distribution is gradually shifting towards more targeted feeding programmes for vulnerable groups and self-sustainability projects such as Food/Cash for Work.

With more than 180 agencies and NGOs now operating in Sri Lanka, coordination remains a major challenge as well as an opportunity. Existing coordination mechanisms have been streamlined and reinforced, information flows have been captured, and a strategy-planning calendar has been approved by the UNCT. Having entered a transitional stage, the post-tsunami relief and recovery effort faces even bigger challenges. It has become evident that much stronger efforts are needed to ensure smooth transition from relief to recovery. In anticipation of a Government National Reconstruction Plan (not ready as of 30 March), much more has to be done on optimising sectoral and overall coordination with authorities at all levels. Priority in this regard should be given to issues related to transitional shelter, ensuring adequate sanitation conditions and start-up of livelihoods activities.

The extension of the Flash Appeal to the end of 2005 will allow more precise targeting and better implementation while reducing the adverse impact of limited local absorbing capacities. However, while aiming to focus on extended relief and early recovery, the Mid-term Review cannot at this point address in a comprehensive manner the task of ensuring a smooth transition from relief to recovery in general. The reason for that is threefold: a) the National Reconstruction Plan is yet to be finalised by the Government; b) the results of the Second Phase of UN/International Financial Institutions (IFI) led Needs Assessment will be coming in by the end of April; and, c) UN “3W” (Who, What, Where) survey including NGOs is yet to be completed. The UNCT, therefore, decided for a “zero option” in terms of increasing requirements. As the above missing elements will become available, a 24-month UNCT Transition Strategy from relief to recovery will be drafted by the end of May 2005 in consultation with the Government and other major stakeholders. The Transition Strategy will include the original six months of the Flash Appeal. In parallel, efforts are being made to address unmet emerging needs, for example, FAO is developing a project in agriculture using own fund-raising mechanisms, and UNHCR has reallocated funds from shelter-related transport to protection.

Thus, through the Mid-term Review, UN and its partners appeal to donors to consider proposed original projects, which have remained under funded. The Mid-term Review will also create the necessary momentum to define the Transitional Strategy, which the extended timeframe for implementation of the Flash Appeal will feed into. The Strategy, part from being a programming/coordination instrument, will also be used as a fund- raising tool to approach donors with a consolidated set of appropriate projects.

Download the full report

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