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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. 

Saturday, February 12, 2005

ILO survey reveals 276,000 jobs, livelihoods lost to Tsunami

This article was on ISLAND (02/11/05) and was sent in by Ananda:

A rapid assessment survey of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO), which is updating information on a daily basis, reveals that jobs and livelihoods lost to the Tsunami in Sri Lanka currently stands at around 276,000. This is still a very large figure, which unfortunately is unlikely to fall more. Concerted efforts will be required to address this loss of employment, and the ILO and World Food Programme have therefore conducted a survey to find out more about the damage the tsunami has done to people’s livelihoods in the directly affected areas, and identify areas in which support will be required. Earlier, in the immediate aftermath after the Tsunami in January, based on general and incomplete situation reports, ILO made a preliminary estimate that total jobs and livelihood losses due to the tsunami numbered about 400,000, which needs to be corrected, the ILO said.

Around mid-January, some hundred interviewers swarmed out all over the country to interview more than 1,600 affected households in 8 of the most affected districts. Displaced households, in camps or elsewhere, were included. Most of the interviewers were volunteers from the International Association of Students of Economics, Commerce and Management. The damage to houses has been widely reported. The survey confirmed that nearly all affected have suffered damage or lost their houses. In addition, 80 percent of the affected lost their main source of income. Most jobs were lost in the fisheries sector, with nearly none of the households now still engaged in fishing. Also badly affected were micro and small businesses, like shops, small restaurants, food processing, and handicrafts. Much employment was lost in tourism and agriculture as well.

Nine out of ten households that had productive assets saw them destroyed or damaged by the tsunami, and have therefore lost or reduced their capacity to generate an income. This includes assets like buildings, equipment, stocks, and livestock. This will have a longer-term effect on people’s incomes, as many assets are not easily replaced. Not surprisingly, then, half of the households covered were dependent on public and private aid, with only slightly more relying on government assistance than on private charity. A large majority of the households had already received food, medicine and clothing, but few had received cash.

Many people have reported on a new fear of the sea, and have wondered whether those who made their living on or near to it will return to their previous occupation. The survey found that in fact 20 percent of households expect to earn an income in a different way in the future. This could mean that thousands abandon their traditional way of life, most of all among fisher folk. A similar percentage plans to move to another area in order to build a new life. Such plans could be the result of the search for a new source of income, but could also be related to the expectation that households will not be allowed to resettle in close proximity to the shore. When asked about their personal plans, only two-thirds of those interviewed were able to say how they expect to earn an income in the near future, reflecting the shock and confusion caused by the disaster. Of those who did know, the large majority (79 percent) planned to be self-employed or in business. Many of these were women, including those who have lost their husbands and have now become their household’s breadwinner. Nearly all of those who plan to be self-employed or in business lack the funds for the necessary investments. Overall, a significant share of those who were affected (14 percent) do not have the skills necessary for the work they plan to do.

Ms. Claudia Coenjaerts, ILO Area Office Director in Colombo said ``The information obtained through this rapid assessment survey is of key importance to the planning of a response to the destruction of people’s livelihoods caused by the tsunami. Many of those have lost part of their family, and face a situation of displacement and dependency. We have to make sure that that they are provided with urgently needed income support while at the same time advancing them out of dependency and poverty as rapidly as possible. We know that they prefer to work rather than continuing to rely on income support. The labour intensive rehabilitation of community and public infrastructure and the environment, is one way of creating jobs immediately. But action on reviving local economies should also not be delayed. Many people are ready for that. The survey shows that most will need small loans to be able to become self-employed or start a business. Some, whose situation is particularly precarious, such as widows who have become the main breadwinner, may need small grants. But these people will also need other support, such as business training and assistance in developing a business plan. Clearly there is also a need for skill training, given that many plan to change the way they earn an income. And many may need guidance and counselling to find an answer to the question what next". The ILO is using the findings of the survey in its support to the Government’s planning of its response to the loss of livelihoods. The information will also be used in the second phase of the UN and donor’s post-tsunami needs assessment.

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Friday, February 11, 2005

Building a Solidarity Economy

ARGENTINA: Building a Solidarity Economy: "Social economy initiatives find innovative ways of meeting people's needs, give participants experience in organising, and in some cases question key aspects of the current economic model, by putting the means of production in the hands of workers, for example. The CTA and other institutions are attempting to create mechanisms and tools for providing technical assistance, training and support for solidarity economy projects, while providing advice for setting up trade and cooperative networks. Working alongside the CTA in this effort are the universities of Buenos Aires, La Plata and General Sarmiento, the Instituto Movilizador de Fondos Cooperativos, the Federaci�n Agraria Argentina, the Centro Nueva Tierra, the local committee of the World Social Forum and a large number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). These organisations are also helping the left-leaning government of N�stor Kirchner to draw up work-fare schemes for the unemployed. In addition, they are backing workers in recuperated factories in their struggle to obtain support from the public and private sectors. But the overall aim of these organisations is to create links between the myriad initiatives, to help them avoid isolation and to bring them together in a unified political and social project. So far, more than 20 productive and service endeavours in Greater Buenos Aires have provided information on their experiences, in order to set up a databank to create links and facilitate communication. For the CTA, it is essential to forge a space in the IEF for offering training and technical advice to the various projects, and to help facilitate networking and exchange among themselves. One key challenge is to identify obstacles to the social economy, which usually"

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Grassroots Organising Ensures Health Care for Neighbourhoods

VENEZUELA: Grassroots Organising Ensures Health Care for Neighbourhoods: "'Programmes like Barrio Adentro have contributed significantly to grassroots organisation,' said Mor'n. 'The people who live here are happy to have medical care from doctors who are friendly, down-to-earth and not at all elitist. They also feel a sense of motivation, because they see it is possible to achieve things and obtain services, and have developed a sense for taking care of what they have managed to obtain.' A hill separates La Vega from El Valle, another working-class Caracas neighbourhood that has also experienced an impressive upsurge in community participation, leading to significant advances in social development. 'Around here, everything started with a committee formed to take care of this park,' said El Valle resident Jos' Matos, pointing to the half-hectare of grass and swings that serves as a sort of 'town square' for this community. The 'friends of the park society' drummed up neighbourhood support to help reclaim this green space, whose lack of lighting and proliferation of untended bushes had turned it into a haven for drug traffickers and other petty criminals at night. Once this mission had been accomplished, the community collective then turned its efforts towards organising the construction of a Mercal subsidised food market next to the park. After the launching of the Barrio Adentro programme and the arrival of the first Cuban doctors, the group originally formed as 'friends of the park' became a health care committee with 16 neighbourhood delegates, who have gone on to form committees devoted to sports, culture, lighting, water, adult education and activities for seniors.

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Kandalama Wewa needs repairs

Sri Lanka, 2 - 10 - 2005: Kandalama Wewa needs repairs: "Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Janaka Bandara Tennakoon has called for necessary repairs to the Kandalama Wewa, which he said was an integral part of life in Dambulla. He expressed regretted over the delay in carrying out the repairs and said he would repeat his request to the Mahaweli and River Basins Ministry."

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Relief Plan of AID India

Association for India's Development, Inc. (AID) is a voluntary non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainable, equitable and just development in India, by working with grassroots organizations and movements in India. AID supports and initiates efforts in various interconnected spheres such as education, livelihoods, natural resources, health, women's empowerment and social justice.
In their Tsunami Releif report 4 they detail the work done so far by them and also detail an outline of their long term plans. Here is an excerpt from it.
''.........Here the situation is very different. With so many NGOs interested in working here, there is almost a competition for NGO space! If you don’t do something, someone else will. If you don’t build the temporary shelter today, by next week someone else will. If you don’t start repairing boats now, day after there will be others who will repair boats. How does one think of long term plans in this context? In our team we did an exercise to address this question. We asked ourselves “Let’s say all our volunteers, and all our supporters close their eyes and go off to sleep. Exactly one year later we all suddenly wake up. What would we find had happened? What would NOT have happened because we were asleep?” The logic was that the things that would not have happened because we were asleep are exactly the areas we must focus on. Those are the areas that “need” us. ...''
I don't know whether this description is valid for Sri Lanka. Nevertheles there are many interesting and relevant ideas in this report that can be adopted by organization working on recovery efforts in Sri Lanka.

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Video News Conference on Disaster Warning System for Sri Lanka

LIRNEasia: Blog Archive: Feb 10, 2005 10.30AM (SL time): Video News Conference on Disaster Warning System for Sri Lanka: "The hub of the video news conference will be at the Distance Learning Center located on SLIDA's campus in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It will include about 35-50 media personnel. The video news conference will also connect disaster and tsunami experts in Vancouver (Canada), and Hilo (Hawai). We have scheduled the video conference for February 10th (Thursday) for Sri Lanka time 1030 hrs."

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CNO Sucessfully Completes its Mission

Centre for National Operations: "............. Thus it was time for the volunteers to take a break and for the government institutions to step in for the volunteers. The Task force for Relief [ TAFOR ] is geared to fill this vacuum. Thus all functions pertaining to relief operations are now transferred to the said task force."

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Situation Report

Sri Lanka: Situation report by WSWS

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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Draft Concept Paper on a National All-Hazards Warning System for Sri Lanka

LIRNEasia - Blog Archive - Draft Concept Paper on a National All-Hazards Warning System for Sri Lanka: "Comments and suggestions are hereby invited on the interim report : ''Specifications of a national all-hazards warning system.'' Draft for comment
The paper is based on international and local expertise and the input from an expert consultation held on January 26th, 2005. All comments received prior to February 19th will be taken into account in finalizing the report. It is intended that the final report will be handed over to the appropriate authorities in government on or around the 26th of February, 2005, two months to the day from Sri Lanka's greatest calamity.

Comments may be submitted by following this link, or alternatively emailed to asia@lirne.net"

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International Parliamentarians' Petition for Democratic Oversight of the IMF and the World Bank

IPPINFO.ORG: Home: "As the IMF and World Bank celebrate their 60th anniversary, millions of people around the world are asking 'what is there to celebrate?' Years of ill-advised economic policies have delayed debt relief, increased poverty, and undermined democracy, prompting demonstrations not celebrations. In particular, despite promises that developing countries should 'own' IMF and World Bank policies, parliaments continue to be sidelined or undermined by these institutions.

So rather than send them a birthday card, parliamentarians and campaigners have started an International Parliamentarians' Petition (IPP) signed by legislators from both developed and developing countries, and backed by civil society groups worldwide. The IPP is a practical way to assert support for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, and to call for parliaments to be fully involved in the development and scrutiny of IMF and World Bank policies"

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Response to the International Parliamentarians’ Petition for Democratic Oversight of the IMF and World Bank

From the DFID"I agree that developing countries, and their parliaments, need to take their own decisions on economic policies for poverty reduction. Increasing countries' independence on policy-making is also important because there has been too much emphasis in the past on 'one size fits all' approaches to issues like privatisation and trade liberalisation. Sometimes these reforms work for the poor. But sometimes they don't. So I agree that the final decision on whether to undertake them must rest on the evidence, and with developing countries themselves. That is why we are seeking to promote a much greater use of poverty and social impact analyses (PSIA), both bilaterally and in the International Financial Institutions.

We have recently undertaken a major review of our approach to conditionality. In September, during the World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, I launched a consultation paper on conditionality (343kb) , produced jointly between DFID, HM Treasury and the Foreign Office. I also argued successfully that the World Bank should undertake a review of its own approach to conditionality, which will report back next year. I wrote to Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to underline the importance that the UK attaches to this review starting from first principles and resulting in changes to how the Bank works with partner countries and aligns itself better with countries' own plans. "

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Sri Lanka’s Main Muslim party warns of an Eastern uprising

The Lanka Academic, the official newspaper of LAcNet: "Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, February 7, 2005, 11.05 p.m.. The country's pre-dominant Muslim party today warned of an uprising if the respective authorities continue the present lethargic attitude towards the severely tsunami affected Eastern province population. "

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Sri Lanka should focus on human element in tourism - WTO Secretary General

Online edition of Daily News - News: "'by Anjana Gamage
"Sri Lanka should focus on the human element in tourism, saving jobs connected to the tourist trade, relaunching small tourism-related businesses, and recovering the visitor flow that makes economies work," said the Secretary-General of World Tourism Organisation (WTO) Francesco Frangialli, in a very short interview with the "Daily News".
According to him, the recently launched 'Phuket Action Plan' in Thailand also focused on jobs, small type businesses and the getting tourists back to the affected countries. " The main goal of the Phuket Action Plan is to speed up recovery of the tourism sector in the affected destinations, by restoring traveller confidence in the region. The plan also aims to help destinations resume normal operations by maximizing the use of existing tourism infrastructure and by helping small tourism-related businesses and employees", he said.
"The tourism sector is not only for airlines. On one hand, it functions as a small independent company. Taxi drivers to shop keepers earn incomes through tourism. Therefore, in Sri Lanka too, you have to keep them active by proving them opportunities to regain their income in the post tsunami period", he pointed out. Frangialli said: "The Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, who attended the emergency task force meeting, applauded the plan, saying,"The livelihood of thousands of people living in the affected areas depend on tourism and their livelihoods cannot return to normal if they cannot earn their living from tourism. Our task is to return trust and confidence to the international community of tourism", he added.
However, Frangialli ensured that Sri Lanka's tsunami battered tourism sector is already on course for an early recovery surpassing its similarly affected South Asian neighbours." Recovery is already on the way and it is coming faster than expected", he said. Meanwhile, Frangialli also emphasised several facts that have been outlined by Ralf Corsten in his assessment report on Sri Lanka's post-tsunami tourism. " One important fact that he had noticed is the teamwork strength between the government and the private sector in handling the relief efforts", he said.
He also observed that the tsunami tragedy occurred at a time tourism was booming all over the world in 2004 with arrivals growing by 10 percent worldwide, 33 percent in South Asia and 13 percent in Sri Lanka.
However, tourists are once again being welcomed in the affected countries. Phuket reports about 75% of its resorts are operating normally with no signs of the tsunami on several beaches. In the Maldives, about 80% of resorts are operating normally. Cultural tourism to the interior of Sri Lanka continues although some beach areas remain closed, while Indonesia's main tourism destinations are thousands of km from the devastated Aceh province in northern Sumatra."

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Let US Rebuild

Great cities of Europe and Japan arose from the ashes of the world war.Adversity brings out the best in people. Natural calamities such as the great tsunamis will be no exception.WE SHALL REBUILD a Great Society out of the flood of tears that were shed by the fathers, mothers,sons and daughters of those whose lives were cut short by the tsunami!Though it is largely unknown to the western world, Sri Lankan culture goes back 2500 years.Two history books,Deepawamsa and Mahawamsa, written over centuries starting from 100AD, chronicle the history of Sri Lanka.They say that there was a great tsunami around 200 BC, and princess Viharamahadevi offered herself to the oceanto save the country. Her son established his kingdom in the north central city of Anuradhapura.The next millennium and half was the most enlightened period in Sri Lankan history.Irrigation tanks and canals built still serve hundreds of thousands of farmers.Already in the second century BC they built magnificent 9-storey high, 1000 room, monasteries.Many mighty dagobas, parks, flower gardens, and irrigation tanks were constructed during the ensuing centuries.The city utilized sophisticated urban planning techniques. Most people were farmers, and their religion was budhism,yet areas were set aside for foreign travelers, and people of other faiths. There were well developedhospitals for both humans and animals. Stone carvings and wall paintings of exquisite beauty were world famous.Some of these have recently been named world heritage sites by the UNESCO. Scholars from Pliny the elder to MarcoPolo have written glowing accounts about this civilization.
We sense that we are on the verge of another great revival of Sri Lanka. The silver lining, if any,of the 2004 tsunami is that, it has united Sri Lanka in its determination to rise up to meet many challenges.It has also brought much attention to Sri Lanka, and great many people all over the world like what they havediscovered about the country and its people, and many are determined to help the country work toward usheringin the next golden era. Selfless actions by people in the aftermath of the tsunami have taught that problemsthat have haunted us for the last several decades such as the ethnic squabbles are only foolhardy exercisesto massage egos. Through this tragedy, an opportunity has presented itself to solve nagging problems of the yesteryear,and Sri Lankans must be determined to grab hold of it. This is the only right way to memorialize the dead,for then their deaths would not have been in vain.
What will the citizens of the world gain by helping out Sri Lanka?Sri Lanka is a just society that invests in its people, and has always worked toward worldpeace and prosperity for all. There is no denying of the fact that, monetarily speaking,Sri Lanka is a poor country. In fact, the personal income for many hover around $30 per month.However, from the perspective of human capital, it is very rich. I submit to you the following facts.Democracy and secular governance are firmly entrenched. Its life expectancy is 70 years for males and75 years for females; primary school enrollement is 100%; adult literacy rate is 92%.It has overcome the gender bias; school enrollment rates at all levels are the same for boys and girls;the first female prime minister of the world is from Sri Lanka, and its current president is a woman.In fact the person in charge of coordinating rebuilding efforts is a woman as well.Sri Lanka has an advanced health care system.Mortality rate at birth is 0.3 per thousand,a rate comparable to the most advanced countries of the world.Sri Lanka is cognizant of the value of protecting the environment;63% of electric power is generated using eco-friendly hydro power plants,and eight percent of the land area is protected as national parks. In the 2005 Quality of Life Index,published by the Economist magazine, Sri Lanka is ranked 43rd, only about dozen steps behind France and UK.United States has recognized Sri Lanka as being (a) Governed Justly ,(b) Investing in People, and (c) Promoting Economic Freedom.These three criteria have made Sri Lanka one of only 16 monetarily poor countriesin the world that are eligible for participation in the US Millenium Compact Challenge.
From a monetary viewpoint, rebuilding Sri Lanka will only cost a drop in the bucket.Only a few dollars can make a huge difference. With $2000 one can build a structurallysound house for a family of 3. For $500 a fisherman can buy a traditional fishing boat.For $5000-$10000 a school building can be constructed. School supplies for a child willonly cost less than ten dollars. Indeed, basic needs of an orphan in Sri Lankacan be met with as little as fifteen dollars a month. Even a penny is worth something.The total cost of rebuilding has been estimated at around 2.5 billion US dollars.When compared to the 1 billion dollar price tag of a single B2 bomber, even thetotal rebuilding cost does not appear to be too much.
While we are engaged in the rebuilding, let us be mindful of several things.First, there are many remote areas that were badly affected, and people thereneed as much help as anyone else. One may maximize the impact of their reliefefforts by helping out people in such areas. Second, there is a huge digitaland information technology gap between urban areas and villages.Projects aimed at rebuilding libraries, computer labs etc.in villages should help bridge the gap. Third, our involvementin Sri Lankan communities should be long term. Through therebuilding projects direct links can be established betweenSri Lankan communities and the rest of the world, and thesewill open up multitude of opportunities in the future toengage in endeavors that will improve living standardsof our neighbors across the globe and nourish the minds of their young.
Sri Lanka is famous for breathtakingly beautiful sunrises.Our vision ought to be is to rebuild a Sri Lanka in which for every child,every waking or sleeping moment is as beautiful as the sunrise they wake up to.Each one of us is only a small cog in the machinery of this vision, yet in theaftermath of the tragedy there are hundreds of thousands of small cogs meshingtogether perfectly to create a fine tuned precision rebuilding machine that isalready breaking ground. We must pat each other on the back for performing our respective tasks.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Livelihood Development Fund Activities

Livelihood Development Fund Activities: "Poverty levels in Sri Lanka continue to remain high, with between a third and a fifth of the population being classified as poor, despite high human development indicators such as literacy and life expectancy. According to the 2001 national census, approximately 25% of Sri Lanka's population lives in the country's coastal region. Poverty is a major issue affecting rural coastal communities in Sri Lanka and a majority of coastal households are among the poorest in the country (Senaratna, 2003). The communities in Rekawa and Kalametiya - two sites on the southern coast of Sri Lanka in the Hambantota District, are typically representative of such coastal communities. Research undertaken in these sites has revealed the heterogeneous nature of these communities and the variation that exists in terms of primary livelihood activities and levels of poverty at the village-level. In both Rekawa and Kalametiya livelihoods are predominantly in the fisheries sector, while a much smaller proportion of the population is engaged in agricultural activities. The percentage of households that had changed their primary livelihoods during the last 10 years, ranged from approximately 35% to 40%. The major factors that had contributed to these changes were alterations to the status of the natural resources communities were dependent on (as a result of either human interventions or natural processes), or more personal reasons such as ill-health, retirement or a death in the family. Discussions with members of the community in Rekawa and Kalametiya were held during the development of IMM's Research Participation Framework (RPF), a key component of IMM's Sustainable Coastal Livelihood (SCL) project. This framework aimed to provide practical guidance to field researchers and research managers on how to increase the effective involvement of villages"

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For traumatized survivors, mental health experts say biggest need is normalcy

News canada.com network: "Based on studies of previous disasters, the World Health Organization estimates that many tsunami survivors will have already recovered emotionally; it says 40-50 per cent are still suffering but with some psychological first aid most will heal in a few months. Up to 10 per cent, however, could become stuck in perpetual panic, crippling anxiety, sleep disorders, alcohol abuse, severe depression or, in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.

The key to minimizing the number is to restore normality as quickly as possible. 'These people don't need counselling,' said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, a WHO mental health expert based in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. 'Their capacity to recover will depend on how quickly the development aid gets to them - how quickly they get houses, jobs and return to normal life. If you can't do that, you have continued trauma and the things that brings - alcohol abuse, suicides, violence and mental illness.'

Experts say natural disasters, which indiscriminately affect entire communities but are over quickly, are easier to deal with emotionally than lingering wars because the frightening thing - the earthquake or wave - ends, whereas in war people live with fear day after day.
Communities find the energy to rebuild after a natural disaster, experts said, and harnessing that solidarity is part of the strategy for healing.

Many of the tsunami survivors, especially those living in camps, are now dependent on aid groups for necessities they used to provide for themselves. How the aid groups deal with this fact can affect psychological healing, particularly among men. In the relief camps around the Sri Lankan city of Batticaloa, which was hit hard by the tsunami, women cook and look after the children. The men are often left idle, and are turning to gambling and alcohol, said Dr. Mahesan Ganesan, a psychiatrist there. Child abuse and domestic violence are creeping up. " More

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District and Rural Hospitals to be upgraded

Sri Lanka, 2 - 6 - 2005: District and Rural Hospitals to be upgraded: "A study conducted by the Ministry has pointed out that people from the distant villages come to city hospital creating congestion as the there was lack of facilities in the districts and rural hospitals. The Ministry sources said this situation has compelled the Ministry to take the decision to improve healthcare conditions in the hospitals at the village level and wherever possible take steps to raise the quality of treatment of patients entering rural hospitals. Upgrading district and rural hospitals close to main cities, �is a need very much felt today,' the same sources, said. "

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Natural Protection

BBCSinhala.com: "Mangroves and the sand banks surrounding the park have blocked the waves and the saltern was hit because of a man made estuary. In the Yala national park a tourist hotel was totally destroyed natural sand banks have been cleared in order to have an open view of the sea as an attraction for the tourists. But the circuit bungalow run by the wild life department survived because of the surrounding sand banks. In Rekawa where mangrove and sand banks were situated minimum damages was reported while in Oruwella fishing harbour in the same area was destroyed as the coral reefs were harvested for lime making for at least ten years."

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Monday, February 07, 2005

U.N. Hiring Tsunami Survivors for Cleanup

AP Wire 02/04/2005 U.N. Hiring Tsunami Survivors for Cleanup: "The U.N. Development Program said it will hire up to 30,000 tsunami survivors to help clean up Aceh, starting with a pilot program of about 100 people in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh and expanding to all affected towns. The earthquake and tsunami killed at least 110,000 people in Aceh, wiping out some villages and leaving behind acres of debris from destroyed fishing boats, wrecked houses and crushed cars. Where possible, scrap iron and steel and slabs of concrete and will be recycled, and vegetation will be used as compost, said UNDP spokeswoman Mieke Kooistra. 'It will inject money into the economy almost immediately,' Kooistra said. 'People will receive a daily wage. The process of collecting waste in a structured way ... will speed up the recovery in damaged areas.' The workers will be paid 40,000 rupiah (about $4) a day, a good wage for unskilled labor in the province."

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Sorry plight of the coastal eco-system

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "The coastal ecosystem - coral reef, mangroves, seagrass beds, coastal dunes, mudflats, salt marshes and lagoons - have all been severely damaged, especially the coral reefs, many of which have lost their structure and biota. The force of the tsunami waves moved large amounts of boulders and sections of the reef and also thousands of tons of smaller fragments along with sand and silt. A team of researchers of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) who did a rapid post-tsunami assessment of a 30 kilometre coastal stretch extending from Medilla to Godawaya in the Hambanthota District have found that four major bays have been severely damaged. The narrowing and lowering of the beach in these areas (the team discovered) had also greatly affected the ecological balance. "

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UDA on an extensive rebuilding program

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "When asked about any construction in progress, Jayasundara said that construction work had already begun in the Galle and Matara districts, with complete redesigned two-storeyed houses, for two families, each, consisting of a floor area of 443-428 sq. ft. on the ground floor and upper floor area of 330-442 sq. ft., on a land of 6 perches in extent. He said that another unit consisting a ground floor area of 453-469 sq. ft. and upper floor area of 341-631 sq. ft. on a land in extent of 6 perches would solve the immediate housing problems of the affected people. 'Our objective is to create a perfect neighbourhood replete with required infrastructure facilities so that the affected people will feel a sense of togetherness once again,' Jayasundara emphasised. He also stressed that the UDA would neither suggest nor advise any organisation to reclaim marshy lands whatsoever because of the rich bio-diversity of those lands. "

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First-Person account narrated to wendell

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "A different story must be told of Kalmunai. The situation is outrageous. The displaced, especially the women and kids appear to the visitor as beggars for they have no decent clothing and no shoes or slippers; the children look sickly and are just filthy. The sanitary conditions are absolutely pathetic. I have no words to describe the plight of these people to you. They are sad - it is written all over - yet they smiled and are friendly. We spoke to the STF at the Vivekananda Vidyalaya Camp where they have 290 people. 32 are kids of school-going age who have absolutely no school clothes or books to resume school life. There are 28 infants, who need clothing, medical care and definitely some nourishing food. In all, there are 82 families. We were told by one of the refugees that most of the camp people were running a temperature (flu symptoms); he was himself recovering from illness. You must avoid falling ill yourself when visiting. The STF mentioned that the people are very sad and definitely need visitors to talk with. The sanitary conditions in this camp were awful. The kids were extremely dirty and the mothers too. Being a woman I could peep into the rooms of buildings: the living conditions were horrible and the cooking areas as well. "

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Entrepreneurs call for construction plans from TAFREN

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "'We are anxious to see the government's clear and comprehensive plans on which we want to invest in the proposed nation building effort in the tsunami hit areas, but there is no such constructive work being mobilised and coordinated as yet for us to go ahead', they said in unison. They said that they were ready to take on different projects immediately and later for local and foreign partners to follow suit. 'But we want our money being used on correct jobs and such projects being realised passing on the benefit to the target groups, members of the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL) said during a panel discussion on the role of the private sector in the post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation effort held at the Taj Samudra in Colombo recently. The participating entrepreneurs also asked the Government to allow them import all goods required under this scheme duty free similar to that of the procedure followed for tsunami relief goods. Dr. Nihal Jinasena representing TAFREN said that he would take up the issue with TAFREN Chairman Mano Tittawella to find immediate solutions to ECCSL members. Dr. Jinasena who has been assigned to handle the fishing and power sectors said that TAFREN would be given legal teeth soon to enable it to act on its own and expedite work by avoiding unnecessary delay due to State tender procedures and other bureaucratic procedures that are time consuming. He also said that TAFREN was mainly doing a match making job and it would strive to bring more donors and working parties together rather than involving physically in construction activities. 'This is a huge area of activities and TAFREN has no time to directly handle projects alone. We will match parties for every project allowing the donors and the constructors to negotiate, implement and complete projects as soon as possible"

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