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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. 

Friday, January 28, 2005

Livelihoods Connect from DFID

Livelihoods Connect from DFID: "Livelihoods Connect is DFID's learning platform for creating sustainable livelihoods to eliminate poverty. It provides a suite of information sharing, learning and management tools for: all DFID advisers and programme officers; NGOs and consultants working with DFID; and international organisations such as the EC, World Bank, FAO and IFAD. Livelihoods Connect will ultimately engage a wide audience, but is initially focusing on a smaller group to help ensure that it can be responsive to needs and be of high quality. The goal of Livelihoods Connect is to enable the practical implementation of the sustainable livelihoods approach as part of DFID's commitment to the International Development Targets. Livelihoods Connect helps practitioners' to organise and share their experience of implementing sustainable livelihoods approaches so everyone can learn. It also helps to support and enable networks, particularly between practitioners and researchers, around SL themes. "

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Over 75% of fisher-folk have been affected by Tsunami

Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources: "Sri Lankan fisheries industry which contributes nearly 2.5% to the country's national income and 65% - 70% of the annual protein intake of the population has suffered a severe damage after the tsunami. The industry consists of about 30,000 fishing vessels of which 15,000 are non-mechanized boats. More than 75% of the fishing fleet had been damaged by the Tsunami tidal waves on 26th December 2004. This will reduce the fish production during 2005. Out of nearly 172,000 active fishermen, 80% had been affected and many thousands of their family members are missing or dead. This will make a strong impact on the next generation of fishermen. Other than active fishermen there are about 100,000 persons affected who are employed in the industry. "

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

27th Day from the Tsunami...

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog: "Can everything be done by the government and should everything be left to its resources alone? Has our enthusiasm been put back on the shelf till such time, (God forbid) another calamity arrives? Have we done enough that we can sit back and pat our backs now? "

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Microfinance - Grameen Foundation USA

About us : Microfinance - Grameen Foundation USA: "Microfinance is often considered one of the most effective and flexible strategies in the fight against global poverty. It is sustainable and can be implemented on the massive scale necessary to respond to the urgent needs of those living on less than $1 a day, the World"s poorest."
This idea is apealing. I have not yet had the time to closely study the activities of the Grameen Foundation. Can somebody please visit their website and evaluate their work with respect to the situation in Sri Lanka.

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Tsunami in Matara

LankaWeb News: "Now the main problem faced by the tsunami victims is settling down in thier own abode. Since the tsunami attack the authorities in confusion had taken a haphazard dicesion regarding the distance at which the people should put up their houses. The authorities never thought about the humanitarian aspects of the affected people. They never had a discourse with the people and asked them where they should like to live. Istead the idiotic and selfish political leaders decided to evacuate the people from their own lands where they had been living for the last so many generations to far away places. If this plan is implemented many are going to loose their livelihood. And we are going to loose the valuable beach. How are the fishermen going to continue their industry? How are the other business people going to continue with their trade?"

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Oxfam says too many inexperienced charities working in tsunami-hit areas

The Lanka Academic, the official newspaper of LAcNet: "OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told The Associated Press it is common in many emergencies for small aid groups to turn up without notice, often complicating relief efforts. ``We see many staff running to the place and we do our best to get these people on board.'' Byrs said sometimes these groups do not have the necessary expertise and their efforts need to be coordinated with wider aid operations conducted by the United Nations and larger relief organizations"

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Signs of renewal scarce along Sri Lankan coast

Signs of renewal scarce along Sri Lankan coast / Only flickers of hope on Buddhist holiday: "On the beach in Sainthamaruthu, an engineer from the Ministry of Fisheries, 23-year-old Ajith Frances, oversees a team of boat workers from Colombo, who are salvaging what they can of the local fishing fleet. The tsunami struck Sainthamaruthu's 240 fishing boats as they lay beached, on blocks, waiting out the rough winter weather. Boats were flung hundreds of feet inland, smashing into collapsing brick houses. 'About 50 are in condition to be repaired,' said Ajith Frances, who arrived when the village's narrow streets were still clogged with the bodies of about 500 residents. Under a tarp affording some protection from the tropical midday sun, workers lay fiberglass fabric onto the side of the Nail Marine, fixing the fabric in place with resin. S.M. Subayeer hopes his blue fishing boat can be salvaged; his two other boats are beyond repair. It will cost $15,000 to do the job, an enormous sum here. Refloating the fishing fleet is a top Sri Lankan government priority."

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Poverty Statistics - Sri Lanka

The Department of Census and Statistics: Poverty statistics and indicators for Sri Lanka published by the department of Census and Statistics can be found here. The official poverty line for Sri Lanka in the year 2002 was Rs 1423. A convenient summary of household income and expenditure can be found here.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sri Lanka's plan to integrate communities angers Muslims

The Independent: "According to the plans, Siribopura will be multi-ethnic, mixing Muslim, Tamil and Singhalese communities in three-storey blocks of flats. It will also contain a 'multi-ethnic religious centre', the first of its kind to be built in Sri Lanka. Gamini Jayaratne - a local Singhalese with four children - lost his brother and sister in the tsunami. He believes that putting people of different cultures in the same place could be disastrous. 'There will be serious social and culture differences which can't be overcome,' he said. 'At the moment we all live in harmony, but separately. In addition the new settlement is right in the middle of a Singhalese-dominated area. You can't suddenly move 10,000 Muslim people there.' The 'multi-religious centre' planned for the new town is equally contentious. Remarkably, Hambantota's mosque survived. But the government is now planning to demolish it. 'This is where we've always worshipped,' said one local who has lived in the now destroyed village for 44 years. 'We don't want that to change. The mosque is still there so we want to live near by. It forms the centre of our community.' Mohammed Khalid, 55, a local fisherman living in a tent near the beach, said: 'The idea of Siribopura is absolutely ridiculous. Everything about it is wrong. It's going to turn into a slum within a year. 'We really don't want to go but what choice do we have? What's annoyed us the most is not once have we been asked how or where we want to live.' A local government planning officer, Nisam Shyiam, was just as sceptical. 'People don't want to live on top of each other. We're used to having our own homes with gardens. You just have to look at Colombo to see the social consequences of living in flats."

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Concerns of Displaced Women's Welfare and Rights

LankaWeb News: "We acknowledge that government officials and other agencies are under pressure and over worked in addressing the enormity of issues that have arisen since the disaster. Therefore we the Women's Coalition for Disaster Management would like to offer our expertise and resources to enhance long term plans with regard to the welfare of displaced people. We recognise that this is a moment in time where all groups in the Batticaloa district should work together. We wish to draw your attention to our serious concerns about the current arrangements for the welfare of persons displaced in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Batticaloa on 26th December 2004. We are alarmed that decisions are being made about temporary re-location of displaced people with neither sufficient consultation nor adequate regard for their wishes. Decision-making must take into account the opinions and concerns they will have about the types of shelter, livelihood opportunities, social support and physical security and psychological attachments to their home area and community. This consultation process must recognise the diversity of displaced populations, where a single camp will often contain many groups with different needs and special requirements. These differences would include gender, age, cultural background, socio-economic status and means of income. Different groups will require different solutions. We, the Women's Coalition for Disaster Management, call for the consultation of displaced women in decision-making about temporary and long-term arrangements for their welfare."

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Three-tier counselling in Nagapattinam

The Hindu : Tamil Nadu News : Three-tier counselling in Nagapattinam: "The district administration has drawn on the experience of experts and officials to firm up the strategy, which includes providing immediate psychosocial support, identifying the most affected and training community- level volunteers to assist those in need. At the grass roots, the trained community volunteers and primary health centre nurses look at the needs. If need be, trained medical personnel will step in. Again, if trauma is considerable, the affected will be referred to psychiatrists who have come from the NIMHANS, Bangalore, the Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, and the CMC, Vellore. "

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Monday, January 24, 2005

REBUILDING AFTER THE TSUNAMI: GETTING IT RIGHT

ENVIRONMENTAL FOUNDATION Ltd Press Releases:"The Environmental Foundation Ltd (EFL) welcomes the government announcement that it hopes to release guidelines for reconstruction in the coastal buffer zone within this week. However, it believes the government needs to have a firm plan in place for this reconstruction, especially with regard to zoning in coastal areas. It considers it senseless, and possibly self-defeating, to initiate a massive housing scheme without a definitive plan. This plan must be in place before reconstruction begins. EFL is releasing a policy document which, it hopes, can contribute to the creation of such a plan.

Coastal guidelines welcomed, but do they go far enough?

It has been announced that the government hopes to release guidelines this week on the coastal buffer zone. These will specify the distance from the sea's edge within which construction of new buildings will be prohibited. This move is to be welcomed. At the moment there is massive confusion and disagreement over just what constitutes the “safe area” within which building should be allowed. Unplanned and illegal reconstruction is taking place in what are obviously unsafe areas, and there is an urgent need for restrictions to be clearly defined and enforced. But alone these guidelines on the coastal buffer will not be enough to ensure that the rebuilding process will generate the benefits and welfare improvements we are hoping for.

How to get it right

The policy paper "Rebuilding after the Tsunami: how to get it right", to be released on Wednesday the 19th January by EFL attempts to tackle these concerns. It explains the hazards that are inherent in not addressing land-use, construction design, legal, social and environmental issues adequately, and presents a series of concrete recommendations to strengthen the rebuilding process. The document attempts to establish a number of key principles that must guide the rebuilding process. It suggests that adherence to a principle of minimum land use should direct the development of new housing units. In line with this thinking, it proposes the construction of multi-storey apartment blocks as the most land-efficient and cost-effective method of rebuilding for those who have lost their homes. It also emphasises environmental justice and equity goals as being indispensable to the rebuilding process. It attempts to present a case for adopting eco-friendly construction practices, and for rehabilitating and restoring natural ecosystems such as forests, mangroves and wetlands alongside physical infrastructure and housing. It is only through taking environmental concerns into account that we will be able to safeguard the future security of settlements for all sectors of the coastal population. Although Sri Lanka has a comprehensive legal, policy and institutional framework governing coastal zone management and development, many of the required laws and regulations have not been followed in the past. They are still are not being enforced as the first stages of reconstruction take place. Time and time again, expectations of political and personal gains have skewed the development process. The document argues that there is an urgent need for to build consensus around re-establishing the rule of law and strengthening the institutions that uphold it. In particular, there must be a stated commitment among all stakeholders to respect and enforce the laws governing coastal zone development and conservation.

A call to action
EFL calls upon the government to make an immediate statement of intent which outlines how they propose to deal with the issues that are laid out in the EFL document. There is a need to make sure that a transparent and concrete plan is developed — and adhered to — which will guide the rebuilding process. It is essential that the elements of this plan are known to all stakeholders and donors before reconstruction begins. If we do not get the rebuilding process right there is a real danger that many of the mistakes that were made in the past will be repeated, undermining still further the already-weakened lives and livelihoods of the coastal population. In the light of lessons learned from the impacts of the tsunami, in the wake of the devastation we face, and in the interests of our future prospects for development and growth, this is a risk that we simply cannot afford to bear. Although the need to rebuild after the tsunami has been prompted by the worst possible circumstances, it provides a golden opportunity not just to mend our broken infrastructure but to better it, and to improve the long-term social, economic and environmental status of Sri Lanka’s coastal population. Things should only change for the better if we get the rebuilding process right.
17th January 2005 The policy paper "

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Empowering female survivors of the tsunami: It's their life

Empowering female survivors of the tsunami: It's their life, by Carol Aloysius : "In spite of these efforts to provide relief for their physical and emotional needs the consensus of opinion among the women's organisations we spoke to, was that women should be an integral part of management at these camps and be given an equal share in distribution of rations,and most importantly be able to voice their grievances to people who are gender sensisitive. Sources also said that a Databank should be set up to serve as a reference for developing skills training programs for these displaced women, starting at grass roots levels. 'We have to first identify their needs and then think of specific programs tailored to meet those needs', a spokeswoman for the Media Collective Centre said. For example, she pointed out, in some of the affected areas women were engaged in fish processing, in others they were involved in agriculture; in still others in cadjan weaving. Each training program must therefore be tailored to these specific needs, area-wise, she stressed. 'For this we need to do a livelihood survey, as well as data on the number of new female headed households - especially by women who have no skills to perform this task.She added that the ILO is currently doing livelihood survey with focus on women's issues. However, to facilitate any training scheme for such women in the future, it is important to obtain some quick input on the exact number of women who have been forced into the role of female heads of their households following the death of their husbands in the tsunami disaster. The future of these displaced women however, will depend on whether they are brought into the decision making and planning of such programs , whether it concerns their personal safety and protection from gender harassment, or the re-building of their lives. Only then can there be real empowerm"

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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Millennium Challenge Account

Millennium Challenge Corporation: " The US government has established the Millennnium Challnge Account (MCA) to provide assistance to developing countries that meet cetain elligibility conditions. A country is considered eligible if it rules justly, invests in their people, and encourages economic freedom. For the fiscal year 2005 the US Congress has approved US $1.5 billion for the MCA. Sri Lanka is one of the 16 countries that is eligible to submit a proposal for funding from the MCA: The concept paper submitted by Sri Lanka can be found at, Sri Lanka concept paper."

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