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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, December 25, 2005

Buffer zone hampers tsunami reconstruction

Sunday Observer: 18/12/2005" by Jayantha Sri Nissanka

The decision to impose a buffer zone of 100 to 200 metres from the shoreline and the scarcity of alternate land in close proximity to devastated houses have delayed the construction of tsunami housing projects.

"If this restriction was not imposed, the majority of the displaced people will not have to still languish in 54,102 transitional shelters", a senior Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA) official told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that pledged to build 32,000 houses immediately for tsunami victims have only completed 4,299 houses so far as one year after the tsunami disaster is completed on December 26. In addition, 10,610 housing units are under construction.

Lack of experience of NGOs in building housing projects also contributed much to the delay. They were struggling during the early stages in hiring consultants and designing projects, the official said.

Another housing program for people who were living outside the buffer zone to repair or rebuild damaged houses manned by the RADA seems to be successful as the house owners were directly given funds to repair or rebuild their houses. Under this program financial assistance was given to two categories such as Rs.100,000 to repair a partly damaged house and Rs. 250,000 for a fully damaged house.

Altogether 66,000 families have received financial assistance under this program. Accordingly, 97% families have drawn the first instalment and many victims have also received the final fourth payment too.

According to the RADA progress report, 150,000 people lost their main source of income. About 50% of them were engaged in the fisheries sector and the rest were in agriculture, tourism, public sector, small and micro enterprises, etc. However, about 70% to 85% of families have regained their main source of income.

But NGOs which are engaged in livelihood development have faced major problems of providing assistance to real beneficiaries due to the pressure of local politicians and officials at Divisional Secretariats. "They urged us to first provide assistance to their name lists.

When we inquired we found that people in the name list are not tsunami victims but supporters or relatives of politicians and officials", an official of a leading NGO told the Sunday Observer.

Funds have been provided for the rehabilitation of 180 schools but relocation of 94 schools do not seem to have made much progress. Only lands have been identified.

Only 10 schools have been reconstructed during the year but it is expected to complete 124 schools in 2006 and 48 in 2007.

MoUs have been signed with 45 organisations to rehabilitate 97 damaged health institutions and more than 100 non damaged health care institutions were identified for improvement. However, 10 mother and child care clinics and one Central Dispensary have been completed so far. In addition, eight projects have begun construction.

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