New concerns regarding the relaxation of the buffer zone were raised at the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies weekly operational meeting on 21 October. Discussions centred on the implications for project plans and resources, beneficiary confusion, freedom of return, and equity issues. Concern was also raised about the possibility of government changing policy again especially with regard to selective buffer zone District Secretariat (DS) and Grama Sevaka (GS) areas.
OCHA's Field office in Batticaloa reports that the operational environment is characterized by almost daily security incidents. During the month of September, a total of 31 security incidents occurred throughout the district with the latest security incident injuring10 civilians and one police officer.
From 1-15 October, IOM Sri Lanka dispatched lorries 123 times to various construction sites and equipment locations around the country. Sixty-nine IOM lorries were dispatched on behalf of various agencies during the same period: 16 lorries transported medicine and medical equipment from the Colombo Medical Supplies Division to warehouses around Colombo as well as to hospitals in affected areas throughout the country for the Ministry of Health; 16 lorries transported building material to construction sites in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara for UNHCR; 16 lorries transported fishing boats to Trincomalee and Batticaloa for Care International; 10 lorries transported cement to Matara for TAFREN; 4 lorries transported cement to Ampara for SPIR (Samaritan's Purse International Relief); 6 lorries transported GI roofing sheets to Ampara for OXFAM; and one lorry transported plastic sheets from Colombo to Ampara for GOAL.
An additional 198 projects have been approved in Galle, Hambantota and Matara, scaling up the total number of food-for-work projects in tsunami-affected areas to 444. These new food-for-work projects focus on road renovation and construction, cleaning of schools and common areas, construction of children's playgrounds and planting of coconut seedlings. From October to December 2005, WFP is planning to distribute 10,967 tonnes of mixed food commodities to some 183,000 beneficiaries under the food-for-work programme.
Students and teachers of Navalady School (Thiraimadu temporary school building) have made a complaint to the Zonal Department Education (ZDE) that the building is too hot and therefore not suitable to be used for teaching purposes. Following this complaint, the ZDE made a request to UNICEF to upgrade the building.
Schools which have been used as welfare camps (indirectly affected by the tsunami) need to be renovated. There are 75 such schools in Batticaloa district and the ZDEs have requested the donor community to come forward to help them.
Dengue alerts are ongoing in Matara district and among aid workers the OCHA Galle field office reports. Two cases of dengue have been reported by the Spanish Red Cross and Caritas International. IOM Sri Lanka is in the process of developing an information campaign aimed at delivering messages about the high tendency for an outbreak of dengue and malaria due to increased breeding sites following the seasonal rains. In Trincomalee, the Medical Health Officer with the support of IOM launched an awareness raising campaign on dengue and malaria prevention, which will be aired through the local cable TV network. This announcement will be telecast in local languages, initially for seven continuous days and then every Sunday through December 2005.
The broadcast message states: "There is potential risk for outbreaks of dengue and malaria in Trincomalee again this season. Let us protect ourselves from these diseases by destroying mosquito breeding sites such as bottles, coconut shells, polythene bags, plastic containers and other places where water can stagnate."
In Batticaloa, as part of the prevention exercise for dengue and malaria, an environmental hygiene programme has been developed by the CHSO (community health surveillance officer) to inform residents on how to destroy breeding sites for vectors of the diseases.
A teenage boy with a compound fracture was facilitated by IOM to travel to the orthopaedic clinic at Batticaloa General Hospital on 12 October. IOM also agreed to regularly provide transportation to a mother whose one-year-old baby was diagnosed with thalassaemic heart disease and must receive a monthly blood transfusion.
Additionally, a large scale shramadanaya (cleaning project) was conducted in Onthachimadam village, Batticaloa district. All beneficiaries and IOM staff took part in this cleaning project that will be the initiation of a vector control programme.
Fourteen different organisations in the psycho-social field are working in the transitional shelter site of Thiraimadu in Batticaloa. Despite the fact that the number of shelters and families amounts to over 1,000, agencies have sometimes found themselves assisting the same persons. To try to address this situation, Mangrove, a local network recently initiated a series of coordination meetings and actors are currently undertaking a joint needs assessment in order to develop a joint work plan. Mangrove has also established their first psycho-social referral desk in Vaharai division and is planning to set up similar desks in all the tsunami affected divisions.
In Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, UNICEF has facilitated the compilation of a summary matrix identifying gaps in flood prone IDP camps, with other UN agencies and NGO partners as part of the ongoing contingency preparedness planning for floods during the monsoon season. UNICEF also conducted a lecture on the importance of proper drainage in the transitional settlements during a two-day training workshop for the field officers of TAP(Transitional Accommodation Project) supported by the Norwegian government. In Galle, assessments and preparations to improve the water and sanitation facilities in selected schools in all three districts supported by UNICEF have been completed. To improve transport facilities for water and sanitation activities, UNICEF provided three double cab trucks to the National Water Supply and Drainage Board in Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts.
In Ampara, a total of 138 water bowsers provided 1,109,050 liters of water a day for the week 10-16 October to tsunami camps by various actors.
In Kalutara, IOM WatSan engineers hired local contractors to improve facilities at the Purana Raja Maha Viharaya (PRMV) transitional housing site. On 15 October, contractors completed the rehabilitation of one well that is used as the main source of drinking water for 25 beneficiaries. Other improvements included cleaning and deepening the existing hand-dug well, constructing a water distribution system with a pump, water tank, and taps, and constructing a bathing and washing area with privacy fencing.
In Ampara district, IOM WatSan engineers analyzed quotations from 15 contractors for a Ministry of Health (MOH)-approved design for toilet construction; the bidding contractors previously worked with IOM on the transitional accommodation construction programme.
Also in Ampara, the WatSan engineers started training field assistants to conduct site assessment surveys. IOM is currently assessing WatSan gaps in the district, starting with transitional housing sites in Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil. Based on the initial stages of the assessments, WatSan engineers have identified locations needing approximately 50 toilet facilities and 10 well sites.
The Package Treatment Plant (PTP) run by Samaritan's Purse at Kittandi, Kalmunai Division, has been shutdown due to high salinity in the lagoon. The Water Board has started supplying water up to 115 cubic meters per day from Karativu water tower. Payment for the water at a subsidized rate is being considered. The issue will be raised with the GA as well as with the Water Board and TAP in Colombo for further discussion.
By the end of November, about 1100 toilets need to be completed to cover 1875 families. To date 502 toilets have been completed. The toilet construction of about 300 toilets depends on a final list from UNHCR on completion of shelter construction and assessment of number of toilets.
According to TAP (Transitional Accommodation Project) all transitional shelter requirements in the Galle district have been met. Out of a total of 5403, 1189 and 1691 shelters required in Galle, Matara and Hambantota respectively, 5456, 1204, and 1702 have been completed in the Galle, Matara and Hambantota districts respectively.
To date, IOM Sri Lanka has completed 4,188 transitional houses in seven tsunami-affected districts. In total, IOM has been requested to build 5,775 transitional houses for which land has been allocated for 5,445. In the first two weeks of October, IOM completed 233 houses and another 437 are currently under construction. On the care and maintenance of transitional shelters, a few camps are having termite problems, previously not flagged in the radar.
TAP further reports that there are 112 families still living in tents at two different sites in Koralai Pattu and Eravur Pattu divisions in Batticaloa.
Agencies are working on upgrading their transitional shelters to achieve the minimum standards plus to prepare for the upcoming rain period. In this respect, UNHCR has provided 203 plastic sheets to Oxfam Australia to cover the roofs of their transitional shelters. In Thiraimadu in Batticaloa, the DS has requested the respective actors to do proper upgrading as the transitional shelters will be used at least for 2 years as it seems that there is no chance for permanent housing within the next two years in Thiraimadu.
IOM's livelihood programme has directly assisted 140 beneficiaries in three districts, bringing the total number assisted through this programme to 2,324 families in five districts. The programme has also established partnerships with 12 NGOs and community-based organisations to reach a wider population of tsunami-affected persons.
During the reporting period, livelihood development officers collaborated with psychosocial officers to organise Youth Information Workshops in Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Over 800 youth who attended these workshops were provided with career guidance and information regarding possible vocational training institutions in their area. Their skills and interests were assessed and registered to determine what kind of training and other career development support they would require. After analyzing these assessments, the livelihood team will channel them into locally available training programmes or develop vocational training courses specific to their needs.
IOM entered into partnership with the Institute of Human Development and Training (IHDT), who started a livelihood regeneration programme for female-headed households in three divisions in Kalutara district. IHDT will be assisting 100 families in training, supporting businesses with raw materials and ongoing business development. In Matara, 34 more beneficiaries who received livelihood assistance were given Business Development and Entrepreneurship Skill Training as well as Occupational Safety Training.
As part of IOM's counter trafficking programme, in Trincomalee district, SLF staff implemented activities in Muttur, Eachchilampattu, Kinniya, Kuchchaveli divisions such as community problem-solving and empowerment, including addressing livelihood/job training, sanitation and health issues, a monitoring visit to transitional site preschools, discussions and problem-solving with the Fisheries Society and with four families to address alcohol abuse.
In Ampara, UNICEF Protection Officers provided training on child rights and the role of the District Child Protection Committee to 48 Samodhi Development Workers and student-teachers. UNICEF is establishing protection and psycho-social contingency plans for IDPs for the annual monsoon flooding in Ampara. As the annual flooding coincides with the first anniversary of the tsunami, concerns have been raised that the annual monsoon flooding will precipitate further psycho-social problems.