Tsunami survivors in Ampara may soon be living in homes built from the rubble of their previous houses under a radical new recycling scheme run by Lanka Environmental Recyclers Institute and World Vision.
The environmentally friendly concept, in which rubble is crushed to make dust for bricks and shingle for foundations and road construction, is the brainchild of the Institute’s chairman, Dr Ajantha Perera.
The plan also includes chipping and composting organic debris littering tsunami-struck beaches and lagoons.
Dr Perera had the idea after seeing the Ampara coastline littered with rubble, wood and broken plants and trees. She said that recycling this material will mean so much more to Sri Lanka than just saving money.
“We need to reduce the costs of rebuilding materials in Sri Lanka because the country just can’t afford it,” she said. “Sand is especially expensive.
“But it’s more than that. People want something positive in their lives to make up for what they have lost. Instead of saying to them that we’ll build a brand new home for them, we can give them something that has sentimental value attached to it.
“We shouldn’t be telling them that they need to start over again. It’s just not as easy as all that. By rebuilding their homes with some of the original material, we are keeping back some of what they have lost. That’s part of the healing process.”
While this concept will not trialed for another two weeks, Dr Perera said she truly believes it will be a success. In fact, she thinks it will be so effective that the Institute and World Vision will, before long, be extending the project further along the coast.
She added that, in her experience, this kind of project also encourages different communities to work together for a common cause. In Ampara, both Muslims and Tamils live side by side.
Another practical reason why this project has a good chance of succeeding is that many of the houses destroyed in Ampara were middle-class homes of a good quality, so the rubble left is good enough quality for recycling.
World Vision’s Operations Director Andrew Lanyon said that this revolutionary project would link all areas of the organisation’s work.
“Local people collecting the rubble, those working the crushers, they will all being paid by World Vision for the work they’ll do. So will those rebuilding the houses and roads. That’s economic recovery and shelter.
“Those people clearing the lagoons of debris will be allowing people to fish again. That’s livelihood recovery. And the organic material taken from the lagoons and chipped down will be turned into compost for paddy or coconut farming. That’s agricultural recovery. This really is a holistic, environmentally sound project.”
In recent months, World Vision already worked with more than 1,000 tsunami survivors who were paid to clear the rubble along more than 15 kilometres of the district’s 36 kilometres of devastated coastline.
The charity provided heavy engineering vehicles, equipments and other resources including eight dump trucks, five backhoes, three front-end loaders, a lorry, a dozer and a 4,500 litre water bowser.
Fantastic concept Dr. Perera! We're a new "sustainable redevelopment" NGO arriving in Sri Lanka in September. Rebuilding Community International's expertise is "construction," and we're seeking a few strategic partners with complementary skills to launch successfully a holistic disaster-recovery program that produces economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress. To the Lanka Environmental Recyclers Institute and others with an interest in revolutionizing disaster managment, please visit our website: www.rebuildingcommunity.org.
Jan Woodruff (email@example.com)