As we transit from Tsunami relief to the recovery process it is important to recognize some critical aspects for the recovery strategy to be effective. Certain definitions of the roles of the actors – state, civil society and local community, are required for effective recovery process.
Towards this goal we put forth the following recommendations which are based on the consensus arrived at by representatives from thirty five iNGOs, NGOs, UN organizations, and local administration after the 2 day intensive deliberations at the Workshop for Transition from Relief to Recovery held in Colombo on 25 & 26 August 2005.
1. The recovery strategy should focus on the medium and long-term needs of the survivors themselves. The needs of survivors must take precedence over organizational aid agendas.
2. Needs of the community must be assessed through a participatory process. Therefore consultation with local affected communities and stakeholders is essential.
3. All interventions need to respond and articulated to address the clearly identified needs of local communities,respecting local religion, culture, structures and customs.
4. Local communities should be empowered to make their own decisions during recovery, and participate fully in recovery activities. Local initiatives and use of local resources must be encouraged.
5. Recovery interventions should be structured in such a way as to build confidence between different actors in the process, both inter-organizational and intra-organizational. They should also aim to build trust between different layers within the organization, between the organization and the community, and between the Government and NGOs.
6. Analysis of individual interventions is critical for their potential impact on the community, culture, and conflict situation, and for long-term sustainability. Such impact analysis should also incorporate considerations such as governance, gender-sensitivity, environment, resettlement / land issues, issues specific to the extra-vulnerable disabled, and human rights concerns.
7. The allocation of resourcesboth domestic and international should be strictly guided by the identified needs and local priorities, without discrimination on the basis of political, religious, ethnic or gender considerations.
8. There needs to be communication and transparencyin decision-making and implementation. Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure access for the affected communities to information regarding policies, entitlements, and implementation procedures, and to permit feedback to involved communities as well as implementing authorities.
9. Effective mechanisms need to be created to monitor, evaluate, and ensure transparency in availability of resources, both financial and material, and their usage,
10. A coordinated approach is critical to prevent duplication or overlap in activities. Coordination should not be just between Government and donors, but involve all stakeholders including civil society, the business community, and international NGOs, who have resources that will not pass through Government. Capacity would need to be created at the local level for such coordination. Such capacity would necessitate an integrated approach to intervention that includes all actors in the area, and avoids organizational and sectoral bias. Such coordination and integration could be done by a forum of Humanitarian organizations, either existing or newly formed for the purpose.
11. The recovery strategy should bear in mind the special political circumstances of Sri Lanka, and should be conflict-sensitive, and at the very least do no harm to the peace process, while always attempting to strengthen it.
12. The recovery process should be guided by international standards and best practice for protection, with special attention to the needs of vulnerable groups.
13. The recovery plans should provide for capacity building and strengthening at various levels of governance, but especially District and P.S.s, as well as local civil society organizations.
14. Recovery plans must have a holistic perspective, taking into consideration the complex mix of Tsunami survivors, war victims and the nouveax ultra-poor. Focus must be on the basic values of Humanity, Human Rights, dignity, and respect. They must also address all levels of the hierarchy of needs, especially complex needs of access to a meaningful social life, family life, friends, work and having a value in the social infrastructure.
15. Last, but not the least, in order for all the above to be implemented effectively, there is a need for a new political consensus, freedom from ethno-political bargaining power relations, and an inclusive decision-making process both at governmental and local administration levels.