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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, February 26, 2006

Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 10 - 16 Feb 2006

ReliefWeb Document Preview : Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Date: 16 Feb 2006

Overall Situation
The UNCT retreat was held from the 9-11 February with all heads of agencies including World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International Monitory Fund. The aim was to orient all agencies to the CCA/UNDAF (United Nations Development Assistance Frame Work) process and linkages to country planning processes, provide conceptual clarity on MDGs, conflict, human rights, gender and disaster and introduce tools to be used in the UNDAF process. A training for programme staff in all agencies on the CCA/UNDAF took place from 15-17 February in Colombo.
On 9 February, the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR) presented the findings of their research on the Tsunami Aid Delivery System: a view from six districts in Sri Lanka, with the particular meeting focusing on Galle. The meeting was well attended by local and international NGOs, as well as politicians and local government administrators. The research findings underlined the obvious shift from the previous need of coordination for relief efforts to the present need for planning and sustainability. OCHA Galle office indicates this as a good indicator of how the situation in the Southern Province for development actors and the government is geared for more long-term planning, and the move away from information sharing and coordination meetings for relief effort.
The European Commission has earmarked (EURO) 6 million from the humanitarian aid budget to step up its natural disaster preparedness efforts in South Asia. The funds will be channeled through the Commission's humanitarian aid department (ECHO).
UNICEF this week urged “that the protection of children affected by the conflict is at the center of upcoming talks. Of particular importance remains the unresolved situation of child recruitment, which led UNICEF to yet again appeal to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to cease the recruitment of children and to release all children within its ranks," the agency said. While cases of child recruitment have declined in the past six months, only a few children have been returned to their families by the Tamil Tigers, as previously agreed with UNICEF, the statement quoted Joanna VanGerpen, the agency's Sri Lanka representative as saying.
OCHA Ampara hosted a mission from the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery from 14-15 February. Nazare Albuquerques., Strategic Partnerships Specialist for NGOs & Civil Society met with OCHA staff and a wide range of actors in the reconstruction process.
Some of the leading INGOs in Batticaloa district have received a letter from the 233 Brigade asking for details of activities carried out by INGOs/NGOS in the Batticaloa District. A similar letter was sent by the LTTE early January and presently some Divisional Secretaries are also requesting the same details. The INGO Forum has decided to give the same details to both the Government and the LTTE which includes only the name, job title and the official identity card number.
On 14 February GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) organized a one-day workshop with the collaboration of the Department of Fisheries on the Review of Relief and Rehabilitation Activities in Batticaloa District.
The reduction in the buffer zone has seen local authorities requested by the DSs to get new beneficiary lists for the donor driven housing scheme. This has further delayed permanent housing construction in Thiraimadu, Batticaloa. Helvitas with the collaboration of the Sri Lanka Tsunami Trust has started building their model house in Thiraimadu.
UNDP under its Strong Places Programme gave 1,500,000 rupees worth of office equipment and emergency material to the IOM office in Matara.
A hartal was declared in Muslim areas on 10 February in protest of the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper. However, the hartals/demonstrations never turned violent.
The issue of finding divisional lead agencies has been addressed during the reporting period in Ampara. The following actors agreed to take up the responsibility: Practical Action for Kalmunai Division, Islamic Relief for Ninthavur Division, IOM for Alaydiwembu Division, OXFAM GB for Thirukkovil Division, ZOA for Navithanveli Division, CARE for Sammanthurai Division. GOAL was contacted regarding Sainthamaruthu and/or Karativu Divisions. Addalachchenai Division still lacks a lead agency.
Main challenges and response
Under the housing project of the Spanish Red Cross, 27 houses were to be built in the Godadenikanda area of Akmeemana division. After starting construction work, two weeks ago, the Irrigation Department has protested against the construction as part of the land belongs to the catchments area of a nearby lake and thus Spanish Red Cross had to cease its construction work temporarily. Although the Irrigation Department has given the approval to start work in the remaining parts of the land this week, Spanish Red Cross urges for a clear plan of the land identifying the boundaries that does not fall in the catchments area. Accordingly less than 27 houses can now be built on the land. The Survey Department is trying to expedite the process.
USAID/OTI (Office of Transition Initiatives) advised that they had received reports from a variety of sources in and around Padavisiripura in Trincomalee district of a higher than normal level of kidney problems, reportedly due to the water supply in the area and requested any organization involved in water supply to assist in identifying the cause. ACF is to help after further discussions.
The Additional District Secretary for the tsunami in Galle organized several individual meetings to finalize the beneficiary lists of each division. Currently the new buffer zone is being demarcated in Galle district and finalization of the lists is a bit problematic.
The Sri Lankan Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has been providing hygienic packs to families in transitional shelter sites in Trincomalee district on monthly base since September 2005. The packs are valued at US$ 10.
Eight cases of dengue were reported in Trincomalee since the start of the year. A map detailing these locations is to be circulated. The dengue cases were attributed to the high incidence of dengue mosquitoes, due in part to the high level of garbage accumulating as a result of the recent number of hartals experienced. Rabies has also been reported in Trincomalee district with one or two new cases monthly.
Coordination and common services
OCHA presented the format for activities on various governmental approval procedures at the UN/INGO meeting in Ampara on 8 February. For the time being, the information contained is on building hospitals, fisheries facilities and the donation of medical equipment. The format will be regularly sent out to the UN/INGO community in order to seek inputs to it.
UNOCHA in Trincomalee started to work with the North East Provincial Education Department. The contact directory will be updated and activities related to the sector will be mapped in the future.
In collaboration with local resource personnel, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is conducting a series of workshops on psychosocial Training of Teachers (TOTE) for 85 teachers from 30 tsunami-affected schools that are being rebuilt by the NRC.
The World Bank on 14 February opened its Public Information Center where the “Sri Lanka Country Assistance Strategy Progress Report” was presented.
The UNV DRMU (Disaster Risk Management Unit) organized a workshop to review the district Disaster Preparedness Plan on 14 February.
Food security
Under WFP’s Food for Work Programme, 14 projects are under way in Matara district -- five in Weligama, one in Matara and eight in Devinuwara. Under WFP’s Mother and Child Nutritional Programme, Corn Soya Blend was distributed in Devinuwara and Dickwella Ministry of Health Divisions through the Deputy Provincial Director of Health Services (DPDHS) office for a total of 7039 pregnant/nursing mothers and children between the ages of 6 months to 5 years.
WFP indicated that 3200 MT (of dry food) have been allocated for the whole of the south with several distribution programs planned for this year.
Health
The World Health Organisation Country Cooperation Strategy for 2006-2011 for Sri Lanka was launched on 15 February.
The Government of Japan handed over five Mobile Diagnostic Units worth over Rs. 45 million on 14 February to improve healthcare services in tsunami-affected rural areas. These units are equipped with essential medical instruments, such as Ultrasonic Nebulizers, Glucometers, ESR stands, Automated Bio-Chemistry Analyzers.
Barnet Council in the UK donated £10,000 on 10 February to help rebuild a children's hospital in tsunami-affected Kaluthara in the south. Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Andreas Tambourides, handed over the cheque to Dr Tush Wickramanayaka and her husband Gary Cutter who are running the campaign. The couple needs £100,000 to start rebuilding the hospital in March and the council's donation has brought fundraising up to £97,000.
Water and sanitation
A project to construct 54 permanent toilets and renovate 118 toilets commenced in Polhena, Matara Division under American Red Cross funding recently.
UNICEF reported the construction of 182 permanent latrines for tsunami-affected families in Devata, Siyambalagahawatta in Galle, which commenced on 13 February.
Non-food items and shelter
Fieldwork for new data collection is nearing completion in Government controlled areas in Muttur, Trincomalee district while it is expected to be completed in LTTE controlled areas next week. This fieldwork has been completed by ASM (Assembly of Social Mobilization), a local NGO. IOM performed fieldwork in Eachchilampattai, and their data is being combined with data from NRC (Norwegian Refugee Council) who have also completed their fieldwork there. NRC also checked two sites in Seruvila. ZOA is currently contributing information for their sites in Eastern Muttur and in Seruvila. The existing database has been finalised using comments and corrections provided by agencies in Trincomalee. Updates to existing maps and the designing of new TSST (Transitional Shelter Site Tracking) mapping products can now commence.
Permanent Houses were handed over by the Eastern Rural Development Foundation to 20 tsunami-affected and conflict affected families in Sirupity, Illupaikulam, Kuchchaveli DS division in Trincomalee.
The OCHA Trincomalee office reports that permanent housing coordination is not working very well in the District. ICRC called on agencies working in Trincomalee to meet as there are still many unresolved questions on understanding the circulars from the government with the circular on the buffer zone as one example.
In Killinochchi, under Phase I of the North East Housing Reconstruction Project (NEHRP), 501 houses have been completed while common facilities and wells are been looked into. Phase II will see 1500 houses built in 6 months.
The Tsunami Housing Reconstruction Unit reports that a total of 512 permanent houses have been handed over to beneficiaries in Matara district under the donor driven housing programme.
In Matara district a total of 4097 partially damaged houses have received the first installment of 50,000 rupees while 3,729 partially damaged houses have received the second installment of 50,000 rupees as of 3 February 2006. Also in the Matara district a total of 758 fully damaged houses have received the first installment of 50,000 rupees, while 669 houses have got the second installment of 60,000 rupees, 532 received the third installment of 80,000 rupees and 998 fully damaged houses have received the fourth and final installment of 60,000 rupees.
Under the Donor Driven Housing Programme in Hambantota district 150 permanent houses have been handed over to beneficiaries.
As of 7 Feb 2006, 99.38 per cent of all required semi-permanent shelters (12,447 out of a total of 12,525) are complete in Batticaloa district while 78 shelters are under construction and will be completed within this month.
On 13 February, a workshop was carried out in Galle by GTZ (German Technical Cooperation) to provide Capacity Building for government organizations in the areas of communication, information sharing and coordination within tsunami housing programmes.
The Coast Conservation Department, Survey Department and the officers of the divisional secretariat are currently identifying the houses that are not included in the new buffer zone in Galle Four Gravets and Balapitiya division in the South while Habaraduwa division has already been surveyed.
The Government of Venezuela signed an agreement with the Sri Lankan Government to build 1,000 permanent houses for the tsunami-displaced on 13 February.
Seventy permanent houses completed in Siribopura, Hambantota division by the Hungarian Friendship Association were handed over to beneficiaries on 11 February.
On 16 February 30 houses in Monrovia Stage I, Hikkaduwa were handed over to beneficiaries by Unilever Lanka Ltd.,
Education
Tsunami Education Rehabilitation Monitor (TERM) with facilitation from OCHA reviewed the work in progress of school rebuilding and educational programmes. Twelve schools were affected by the tsunami and 24 schools were used as IDP Camps in Matara District. Among the 12 schools, six needed to be relocated and two were amalgamated while four schools were renovated. Among the 24 schools used as IDP camps, 11 schools have commitments from donors, while 13 schools are still reported to be without donor assistance.
A special donor meeting was held in the (ZDE) Zonal Director of Education Office on 9 February by the Tsunami Education Rehabilitation Monitor (TERM) of the Ministry of Education. The aim was to review the progress of the construction of tsunami-affected schools in Batticaloa district and get the contribution and support of donors towards the rehabilitation of IDP schools which are still without committed support from donors.
ILO has collaborated with the National Worker’s Congress to provide a total of 60 children between the ages of five and 16 with non-formal education/catch-up education. Among them are three tsunami-affected students who have been re-admitted to school.
On 13 February UNICEF organized a meeting with Government counter parts and NGOs to discuss the 2006 education project proposals.
Livelihoods
RADA Livelihoods unit, with the technical assistance of ILO Income Recovery Technical Assistance Programme (IRTAP) started the process of divisional planning in Habbaraduwa, Galle on 2 and 3 of February. This is the first in a series of 35 divisional livelihood plans that will be developed in the coming month that will capture the planned activities of government and development agencies as well as the demands expressed by communities on how to restore livelihoods. Partner organizations involved in this planning process are the University of Colombo for Galle, Batticaloa and Trincomalee; The University of Jaffna for Killinochi and Jaffna and INGO Practical Action for Ampara and Hambantota.
The National Workers’ Congress (NWC) inaugurated a Vocational Training Centre for provision of skills training in labour market driven courses for tsunami-affected children and youth between the ages of 14 to 18, their elder siblings and their parents. The project site is located in Koggala in the Galle District. This has been done with technical and financial assistance from ILO’s International Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour project (IPEC). An NGO funded by USAID, namely REVIVE, is providing micro-grants to 250 of these beneficiaries to start their own business enterprise post-training.
On 6-7 February, FAO held a two-day workshop-- Sustainable Livelihoods and Post-tsunami Recovery in Sri Lanka with Italian Cooperation funding. On February 8, FAO delivered two 4WD vehicles to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (MFAR) to better enable MFAR to administer its programme in tsunami-affected areas.
Under the Environmental Sanitation Cash for Work Programme the Sri Lankan Red Cross is continuing to refill abandoned coir pits, clean blocked drains and mosquito breeding centres with financial assistance from the American Red Cross.
The Sri Lankan Red Cross (SLRC) started a five-day vocational training course for two batches comprising 25 youth each at the Thalalle Vocational Training Centre in Matara district.
Three new films that focus on key issues facing Sri Lanka had their premiere February 11. The films are the culmination of a program sponsored by the United States that trained 75 aspiring cinematographers from tsunami-affected areas in all facets of filmmaking.
Protection
UNICEF held a one-day workshop on child protection at Tangalle Bay in the South on 6 February, which aimed to develop a district strategy for child protection post-tsunami.
A radio programme was conducted by CCF (Christian Children’s Fund) on 15 February at the Child Centre in Thal Aramba II transitional shelter site in Weligama Division in the South. Over 150 children from 11 child centres of other transitional shelters participated in child psychosocial activities


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