Vital information on who did what and where on the post tsunami relief and reconstruction is likely to be made public by the Government shortly.
Since the December 26, 2004 tsunami devastation, millions of dollars and other currencies (totaling to billions of rupees) have poured into the country but to date there is no accurate or proper data base of what has been done, how much money spent, by whom and where.
There is also no official data compiled on the total funds received in relation to post tsunami specific activities. The Central Bank last week disclosed that Rs. 25.48 billion was received as at December 31, 2005 by the Government, non-Governmental Organizations and others in Sri Lanka as private foreign and local donations through banking channels towards tsunami disaster relief. This figure includes Rs. 3.35 billion received by the Government mainly through the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and two state commercial banks. Various multilateral donor agencies as well as countries have made official contributions, pledges and commitments too.
Tsunami tidal waves killed nearly 40,000 people and directly affected more than 800,000 people apart from destroying nearly 100,000 houses, damaging other socio-economic infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads etc in 12 coastal districts of Sri Lanka. The medium term post tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation plan envisaged a cost of US$ 3 billion.
Secretary to the Treasury Dr. P.B. Jayasundera noted that a fair amount of work has been done post tsunami however there is no clear indication of how much money has been spent.
“At present there are over 500 tsunami related projects on going. At the regular donor coordination meetings the issue of how much spent and how much work has been completed are discussed. We are in the process of putting together all the available information and should have a clear idea in the next few weeks,” he said.
Dr. Jayasundera said that donors to various tsunami related projects are also keen to find out whether their contributions are properly utilized while agencies are also under pressure for accountability from their financiers.
The Government has been largely focusing on the national and district level infrastructure rehabilitation as well as cash payments with donor assistance. The bulk of the immediate post tsunami relief and reconstruction work has been undertaken by private sector, local and international NGOs. However there is consensus that most of the tsunami survivors are still languishing and the overall speed of rehabilitation and reconstruction is slow due to various reasons.
Last a week an expert panel commissioned by the UN Commission on Human Rights painted a bleak picture for Asian tsunami survivors one year after.
“Ninety per cent of the people are still living in sub-standard housing,” said Miloon Kothari, the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, referring to the 1.8 million to 2.5 million people displaced when the tsunami hit on 26 December 2004.
He said many people still did not have access to basic services such as water and sanitation. Mr. Kothari wrote a forward to the 64-page report, titled “Tsunami Response: A Human Rights Assessment,” that was sent to the Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for Tsunami-affected Countries, former United States President Bill Clinton.
The Parliament late last year was told that the Government spent Rs. 8.3 billion on health and funeral expenses, provision of basic needs as well as start up allowance of Rs. 5,000 per month post tsunami. Several millions had been spent on restoring basic infrastructure as well.
The donor funded housing program is estimated to cost Rs. 13 billion. Over Rs. 4 billion had been disbursed to tsunami hit SMEs as well through banks.
WB, ADB to update today
Two of the biggest financiers of the post tsunami reconstruction, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank will today make public their assessment on the current status of tsunami and post conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation.