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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. 

Sunday, April 17, 2005

OCHA Situation Report for 08-12 April

Following is the UN-OCHA situation report for the period of 08 – 12 April 2005

Situation
On 08 April, OCHA Sri Lanka issued a press release on the United Nations Mid-term Review
of the Flash Appeal. The press release was reproduced in full in Colombo’s Daily Mirror and Island newspapers and was reported on by at least one TV station. The UN agency for settlements, Habitat, has signed the first private sector partnership agreement with the chemical company BASF to contribute to the agency’s work in tsunamihit areas of Sri Lanka. The US$ 500,000 in BASF support is intended to help strengthen local authorities and community and non-governmental organizations so they may be more effective in the spheres of education, health, poverty eradication, human rights, social integration and infrastructure, according to Habitat.

Overview of activities
A pilot project of 42 temporary houses in Kalmunai, Ampara district was handed over to tsunami-displaced families by UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Miguel Bermeo and UNHCR Representative a.i, James Lynch, on 7 April. Built by UNHCR through its implementing partner the Rural Development Foundation (RDF), with water and sanitation facilities provided by UNICEF, the pilot project is a precursor to the construction of 2,500 more shelters in Ampara District, to be erected at a rate of 500 per month. A further 1,500 temporary houses have been pledged by UNHCR if required. The Business-for-Peace Alliance (BPA) -- a project supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) -- organized a meeting in Batticaloa last week of private and public sector officials, including representatives from commercial banks, private companies, government organizations and ministries with the Batticaloa and Ampara regional chambers of commerce. The objective was to help inform and guide member businesses that were among the worst affected by the tsunami disaster. Working with 17 regional chambers
of commerce, the BPA has helped organize rural and provincial entrepreneurs into an entity that has a collective voice and the ability to sway decision makers. UNDP officials used the occasion of the meeting to launch a Small and Medium Enterprise Credit Facilitation Project, initially among four of the regional chambers and in the future to be extended island-wide. Eighty percent of the Transitional Accommodation Centre (TAC) shelters are completed in Vadamarachchi East, with sixty percent completed in Mullaitivu, however progress is slower
in the rest of Jaffna district.

The Ministry of Social Welfare and Women’s Empowerment in Galle district, in collaboration with Save the Children Sri Lanka and UNICEF, held a half-day seminar on Southern Regional Consultation for the Development of a Social Protection Agenda for Children and Families in Sri Lanka. The meeting was aimed for better coordination of activities of social protection to maximize intervention. The NGO Malteser Germany and UNICEF have made available at least 1,000 rain harvesting systems for use in permanent houses for tsunami survivors across the Southern Province. Renovation of a blood bank and an operation theatre at the District Hospital in Kilinochchi has started. The hospital provided medical care to many tsunami-affected patients in December. ICRC is supporting the clinic with medical staff and UNICEF is assisting to provide equipment for the blood bank. UNHCR reported this past week that a total of 11,972 transitional shelters have now been constructed for tsunami-affected IDPs. In Batticaloa district, 11,092 semi-permanent shelters are scheduled for construction with a total of 2,460 completed as of 6 April 2005. In Galle District, the Transitional Accommodation Project (TAP) Coordinator has announced that most of the lands for resettlement has now been identified and that the divisional secretaries have the required information. Transition shelters are to be built on the same sites as the permanent housing. The Livelihood Taskforce in Trincomalee, which consists of government representatives, UN agencies and NGOs is developing guidelines regarding standard payments for cash for work programmes to avoid creating competition amongst organizations. In Kilinochchi, 75 per cent of the displaced population now live in transitional accommodation centres (TACs), with ad hoc requests being received from the authorities to build additional shelters, as more IDPs previously hosted by communities are choosing to move into TACs. The Transitional Acccomodation Project (TAP) office has opened in Trincomalee and is becoming functional with the support of UNHCR. Nine graduates of a TAP training course have been deployed to TAP field offices in Trincomalee to monitor temporary shelter construction. In response to the communication and information gap created by the tsunami’s destruction, INTERNEWS has launched the Sri Lanka Relief Radio (SLRR) project. INTERNEWS is operating two, fully-equipped, mobile production units -- one operating in the east and the other in the south. Sri Lankan journalists, from a variety of radio outlets throughout the country, will cover stories related to the post-tsunami relief and reconstruction process. The radio pieces are to be sent back to the INTERNEWS Colombo studio for final production. The radio stories will consist of both field reports and interviews with decision-makers in Colombo and will cover as well the activities of UN agencies, NGOs, civil society groups, and others. A key component of the Sri Lanka Relief Radio project is to increase the experience of Sri Lankan State and private radio journalists by providing them opportunities to increase their field reporting skills with practical, hands-on training and production. The SLRR radio segments are to be broadcast on both national and local radio outlets, ensuring affected communities have improved access to information about the relief and reconstruction efforts.
Main challenges and responses

In Trincomolee, unexpected rains during the past week resulted in poor conditions in tented camps. Rains flooded tents and camp sites due to a lack of appropriate drainage. People were unable to cook as fire wood had become wet. A few hundred families have moved back into schools with further movements expected if the rains continue. OXFAM and World Vision have already started distributions of plastic sheeting, tinned foods, and water carriers. UN agencies and NGOs are meeting urgently to discuss a coordinated NFI distribution given that the numbers of people choosing to move is expected to increase significantly if the rains continue. With concerns being raised about dengue fever, given the wet conditions around camps and the remaining debris, a breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes, the Deputy Provincial Director for Health Services in Galle (DPDHS) has reported that actions were being taken to prevent dengue transmission. The programme for vector control, which includes the spraying of insecticide and the distribution of leaflets for hygiene promotion, is being undertaken by the Ministry of Health with support from World Vision. With rumours increasingly traveling amongst affected communities regarding the possibility of another tsunami, the NGO Solidar organized a seminar in Kilinochchi for national and international staff working in Transitional Accommodation Centres (TACs) on the facts about the tsunami and had an expert on early warning systems and tsunamis brief the group. The objective was to educate staff so they can give informed answers to questions from fearful tsunami survivors. Solidar is now developing information material on the subject to disseminate to affected populations. To help safeguard tent shelters against the monsoons Community Habitat and Finance with Project Galle 2005 is continuing to upgrade and improve drainage for such shelter with work ongoing from Hikkaduwa southward in the worst-affected camps. Their quick impact ‘Cash for Work’ programme is currently employing 50 to 100 camp workers. Caritas in Arayampathy division and ACF in Vaharai division of Batticaloa district reported that some of their newly erected transitional shelters had been vandalized by tsunami-affected people who feel that they should have been given priority for such housing. The Batticaloa Shelter Task Force discussed the impact of recent rains on temporary and semi-permanent shelters. It was concluded that many shelters were not waterproof and set up in a way to withstand bad weather conditions. Agencies agreed to review temporary and semi-permanent structures, consider raising tent floors, replacing unsuitable, non-waterproof tents, and making other modifications, including roof reinforcements and better ventilation. This is also in line with a recent TAP quality survey that revealed that a number of transitional shelters are not up to acceptable standards and need to be reinforced or partially redone. to increase their field reporting skills with practical, hands-on training and production. The SLRR radio segments are to be broadcast on both national and local radio outlets, ensuring affected communities have improved access to information about the relief and reconstruction efforts.

Main challenges and responses
In Trincomolee, unexpected rains during the past week resulted in poor conditions in tented camps. Rains flooded tents and camp sites due to a lack of appropriate drainage. People were unable to cook as fire wood had become wet. A few hundred families have moved back into schools with further movements expected if the rains continue. OXFAM and World Vision have already started distributions of plastic sheeting, tinned foods, and water carriers. UN agencies and NGOs are meeting urgently to discuss a coordinated NFI distribution given that the numbers of people choosing to move is expected to increase significantly if the rains continue. With concerns being raised about dengue fever, given the wet conditions around camps and the remaining debris, a breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes, the Deputy Provincial Director for Health Services in Galle (DPDHS) has reported that actions were being taken to prevent dengue transmission. The programme for vector control, which includes the spraying of insecticide and the distribution of leaflets for hygiene promotion, is being undertaken by the Ministry of Health with support from World Vision. With rumours increasingly traveling amongst affected communities regarding the possibility of another tsunami, the NGO Solidar organized a seminar in Kilinochchi for national and international staff working in Transitional Accommodation Centres (TACs) on the facts about the tsunami and had an expert on early warning systems and tsunamis brief the group. The objective was to educate staff so they can give informed answers to questions from fearful tsunami survivors. Solidar is now developing information material on the subject to disseminate to affected populations. To help safeguard tent shelters against the monsoons Community Habitat and Finance with Project Galle 2005 is continuing to upgrade and improve drainage for such shelter with work ongoing from Hikkaduwa southward in the worst-affected camps. Their quick impact ‘Cash for Work’ programme is currently employing 50 to 100 camp workers. Caritas in Arayampathy division and ACF in Vaharai division of Batticaloa district reported that some of their newly erected transitional shelters had been vandalized by tsunami-affected people who feel that they should have been given priority for such housing. The Batticaloa Shelter Task Force discussed the impact of recent rains on temporary and semi-permanent shelters. It was concluded that many shelters were not waterproof and set up in a way to withstand bad weather conditions. Agencies agreed to review temporary and semi-permanent structures, consider raising tent floors, replacing unsuitable, non-waterproof tents, and making other modifications, including roof reinforcements and better ventilation. This is also in line with a recent TAP quality survey that revealed that a number of transitional shelters are not up to acceptable standards and need to be reinforced or partially redone.
Downloead report


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