In an effort to overcome various difficulties and issues in the sphere of housing reconstruction and to address the needs of the tsunami affected masses, President, Mahinda Rajapaksa has revised the housing policy accordingly to expedite relief to the people who have lost their homes to the tsunami.
In assessing tsunami damage, RADA has identified that housing has been the largest physical assets lost in the tsunami. Needs analyses have shown that houses are the most valued assets and that people affected need them urgently to rebuild their lives.
RADA’s Director Housing, Ramesh Selliah said a total of over 98,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by the December 26, 2004 tsunami. About 30,000 permanent houses have been completed under the Owner Driven Scheme, while 39,000 houses are being constructed at present. Almost 6,000 permanent houses have been completed under the government’s Donor Assisted Scheme, while 8500 houses are under construction. About 4500 permanent houses have been completed by well wishers. RADA estimates that about 18,000 new houses are required in 2006 to fulfil original Tsunami requirement of 98,000.
The New Housing Policy (NHP), which has been prepared by the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA) in consultation with the key stakeholders, supersedes all previous government circulars.
It ensures government’s firm commitment to expedite the reconstruction process so that all tsunami affected persons will be provided homes by the end of 2006. Consultation with the key stakeholders which includes donor organizations, NGOs and INGOs will be central to the implementation of the new housing policy.
The government will drive the housing projects through its decentralized administrative structure. The District and Divisional Secretaries will be instrumental in implementing the reconstruction process. Guidelines have been given to District Secretaries on implementation of the housing policy. But the District Secretary is not the competent authority on the legacy issues. They are given an operating framework and the discretion to take decisions in implementing the housing policy, RADA’s Chief Operating Officer, Saliya Wickramasuriya said. He said that although concerns are raised about housing programs in the North and the East, the current trend indicates that these issues will be solved by the year end.
The strategy of the new housing policy is to consider all affected shelters regardless of the location. The beneficiaries will be selected from among the tsunami affected through transparent and public beneficiary lists.
Community participation and the policy of equity to beneficiaries will be ensured under the new policy without affecting houses already built by donors. The new policy will promote the ‘owner driven housing concept’ which is initiated by the owners them selves. The government hopes to provide these Owner Driven Housing Programs with regulated donor assistance under the new policy, RADA said.
In regard to the design of these houses, the strategy is to be flexible and to let the people decide on the design. The house will be built to suit the home owner’s choice provided that it fits the allocated budget. The housing projects will be carried out in compatibility with existing schemes. Under the policy, four housing assistance options are proposed in achieving the set targets and also to simplify the implementation process.
The new housing policy is expected to expedite the construction process. The options will be used by the local authorities in taking decision on housing grants. Any issue which cannot be resolved within this framework will be approached on a case by case basis, RADA further said explaining that all efforts are to focused on rebuilding the affected homes expeditiously.
Over 98,000 houses were damaged or destroyed by the December 26, 2004 tsunami.
* 30,000 permanent houses completed under the Owner Driven Scheme
* 39,000 houses are being constructed at present.
* Almost 6,000 permanent houses completed under the government’s Donor Assisted Scheme
* 8500 houses are under construction.
* About 4500 permanent houses have been completed by well wishers.
* RADA estimates that about 18,000 new houses are required in 2006 to fulfill original Tsunami requirement of 98,000.