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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. 

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Weekly humanitarian overview - Tsunami response

ReliefWeb - Document Preview - Weekly humanitarian overview - Tsunami response activites in the Batticaloa district - 11 - 24 Apr 2005: "Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Date: 24 Apr 2005

HIGHLIGHTS

76 families have returned to Navalady.

The reconstruction of permanent houses of those returning home has started.

Organizations are advocating for an integrated approach of pre-tsunami and tsunamiresponse activities.

WATER & SANITATION

While the Water & Sanitation Task Force is now holding joint meetings with the Shelter and Infrastructure Task Forces, wat/san agencies will continue to meet on technical issues on the first Monday of every month or on an ad hoc basis when a need arises. The Task Force also decided to establish closer linkages with the Health/Hygiene Promotion Task Force. Both Task Forces will send a representative to each other's coordination meetings in order to exchange information and coordinate activities more effectively.

ACF has announced that, starting in July, it is planning to conduct longer-term research on fresh water sources in the district. The study will look into such issues as the impact of tidal waves on ground water, over-pumping resulting in increased salinity, and the contamination of ground water through sanitation facilities.

This past week, the Water Board made available information on existing water sources throughout the district. With this knowledge, wat/san agencies hope to be in a better position to set up durable facilities and address rising needs more adequately.

In response to complaints about flies at sanitation facilities over the past few weeks, the Central Environment Authority (CEA) informed that it had supplied the Mammunai North DS with sprays. Wat/san agencies may collect them from the Divisional Secretary for use in the camps.

The Water Board has announced that it has 4 water purification plants, which it would like to hand over to agencies for installation and maintenance. Please contact Mr. Pragash at the Water Board for more information: nwsdbbt@sh.lk.

HOUSING & SHELTER

In a meeting on 20 April, the Additional GA explained the current state of government policies and implementation in the district. Agencies expressed their concern that beneficiaries had still received little or no information on compensation, requirements for their own contribution to the reconstruction of their houses, and that different levels of government were given out different information.

In the meantime, the reconstruction of permanent houses of those, who have returned to their homes, has started in various parts of the district.

In follow-up to the need to replace or reinforce temporary and transitional shelters, the Task Force decided to divide the district up by agencies, review the condition of shelters and initiate replacement or reinforcement, as required.

PROTECTION/PSYCHOSOCIAL

The Women's Disaster Management Committee (WDMC) is in the process of finalizing a second memorandum for the attention of the district authorities. This memorandum will focus on issues of women's land rights and shelter policies.

This past week, the WDMC reiterated the need to address the situation at the Paddy Market. According to WDMC, there are hygiene and emerging health issues that need to be addressed urgently.

There are going to be two workshops organized this coming week that specifically target women's groups and organizations working with women's groups. The first workshop on "Land Rights and Government Shelter Policies" will take place at the Mangrove on Monday, 25 April, from 3-5pm. For more information, please call Theresa Osland at 077 318 7633. The second workshop on "Construction: Planning & Building" will be held at the Rivera on Friday, 29 April, from 9am to 5pm. Please contact WUSC, tel. 065 222 5761, for more details.

INFRASTRUCTURE

This week, the first 76 families have returned to Navalady, the narrow stretch of sand between the ocean and the Batticaloa Lagoon. This return process has been driven by the IDPs themselves. They will initially stay in two transit centers while they are working with agencies on the reconstruction of their homes. Critical road repairs and electricity works are yet to commence.

The newly revived Infrastructure and Development Task Force has compiled a priority list of infrastructure projects for the rehabilitation of communities and in preparation for relocation sites. While a few donors have come forward to fund some of these projects, needs remain great and donors are invited to work in Batticaloa. A major project, for which support is still sought, is the clearing of the Batticaloa coastline so that fishermen can resume sea fishing unhindered and without safety concerns.

LIVELIHOOD

This past week, the Livelihood, Welfare and Food Task Forces met jointly in a new format for the first time following recent modifications made to the district coordination structure.

In this meeting, ICRC as the representative of the Welfare Task Force explained that the distribution of non-food relief items in the classical sense had come to an end. Consequently, the use of the term NFRI should be phased out as well, and any items that would continue to be distributed in the future should be called by a different name, e.g. kits.

A database is currently being established for all NFRIs that have been distributed over the past 4 months, and will be maintain for non-food items that will be handed out in the future. It is hoped that this information can be made available as soon as possible, particularly to those who would require details for planning of their distribution over the next months. OCHA will facilitate data collection and would appreciate if all organizations, who have distributed over the past months, would please forward this information. Contact Yvonne at email: ocha_batticaloa@fastmail.fm

On the issue of boat distribution, the Livelihood Task Force agreed that - in order to better control the distribution of boats and avoid future environmental damage - the Department of Fisheries and organizations involved would discuss with fishermen the impact of the proliferation of unregistered boats. In this regard, the group also reiterated the need to better inform fishermen about the process of distribution as well as the timelines within which beneficiary selection and eventually distribution would take place.

In this context, CORDAID informed that their boat distribution was continuing according to plan. The first boats would be distributed on 30 April. As always, the beneficiary list would be published in the newspaper beforehand.

According to Oxfam GB, their boat distribution was delayed as details of the boat owners needed to be forwarded to the Department of Fisheries in Colombo first before boat registration at the boat yard could go ahead. It was clarified during the meeting that only motorized boats needed to be processed through the Department of Fisheries in Colombo, and that all other, non-motorized boats could be registered with the Department of Fisheries in Batticaloa. Oxfam GB expressed hope that the Department in Colombo would ensure a speedy processing so that distribution was not delayed much further.

In an effort to address the continued concerns of agencies to make donations to genuine beneficiaries and avoid duplications of donations, the Department of Fisheries informed that it had almost completed the entire list for the district, with the exception of Vaharai and Valaichenai, which would be finalized within the next two weeks.

On the issue of sea nets, Oxfam GB and Hong Kong Red Cross explained that the current government regulation of only distributing to individuals had prevented them so far from giving out sea nets. However, due to the high cost of the nets and the tradition of fishing in groups, they were not prepared to hand them out to individuals. The Livelihood Task Force decided to make a joint appeal to the Department of Fisheries to review their policy. Oxfam GB is prepared to donate 30 sea nets, while Hong Kong Red Cross would like to hand out 20 sea nets.

In its meeting on 12 April, the sub-committee on boat and engine repair expressed concern about the continued lack of coordination and information sharing of organizations involved in boat distribution and repair. The sub-committee requested all organizations to participate in coordination meetings and share relevant information.

FAO informed that two FAO consultants had arrived in the district. One would primarily work on fishing gear, while the other would focus on engines.

On the issue of agriculture, the group reiterated an earlier request to the Department of Agriculture to compile a list of all needs in the agriculture sector so that donors could be found and assistance could be delivered to farmers without much further delay. In this regard, the group also discussed the impact of salt-water contaminated soil and came to the conclusion, based on current experience, that farmers were in need of advice on the use more tolerant crop.

OCHA informed that the issue of non-compliance with fixed labour rates had resurfaced in various meetings recently again. While information on fixed labour rates had been circulated repeatedly, non-compliance with the guidelines were starting to negatively impact on the local economy. The group agreed to follow up on enforcement mechanisms in cooperation with the Kachcheri's Price Fixing Committee and appealed to all organizations to adhere to the guidelines.

COORDINATION

Across all sectors, organizations are advocating for an integrated approach of pre-tsunami and tsunami-response activities. At the same time, organizations also point out that, for many, current donor reporting and funding does not allow for this. Organizations are concerned that the discrepancy between those receiving tsunami relief and others in need of assistance will increase the social tension that is already visible in the district.

The CHA office in Batticaloa has now opened. Last week, on 18 April, CHA invited shelter agencies, particularly local partners, to a joint CHA/RedR workshop on transitional shelters. The CHA office is located at No. 79, Central Road, next to Focus. The local representative is Mr. Sylvester, who can be contacted at email: btcdesk@sltnet.lk, tel. 065 222 5551.

With regard to the new district coordination structure, a meeting schedule is currently compiled of all regular, cross-sectoral meetings to be held in the affected DSs. It is hoped that the complete schedule can be made available next week.

For comments, suggestions or more information, please contact OCHA Batticaloa: ocha_Batticaloa@fastmail.fm "


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