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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, July 14, 2006

Financial institutes’ vital role in tsunami rebuilding

Daily News: 14/07/2006" Hiran H. Senewiratne

COLOMBO: The majority of tsunami affected families live close to financial institutes, which makes it easy to disburse funds through these institutes in a more efficient and effective manner, World Bank Country Director Peter Harrold said.

“Sri Lanka has an efficient banking system which has helped to disburse money among tsunami affected people in a more efficient manner, but if it was in Pakistan, the situation would have been much different,” Harrold told a press conference to announce the pledge of US $ 10 million to a tsunami housing effort by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

He said that these funds would be channelled through the World Bank.

Harrold said that IFRC ‘s commitment of US$ 10 million to phase two of the Government of Sri Lanka’s owner-driven housing programme, could be channelled for needy people in a more transparent and efficient way.

The Community Recovery and Reconstruction Partnership is a programme that has been established to accelerate reconstruction in tsunami-affected districts where housing needs remain unmet.

The partnership comprises a unique alliance between the Federation, the Sri Lanka Red Cross and UN-Habitat with technical support provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Price Waterhouse Coopers, he said.

Under this scheme a person can obtain Rs 700,000 to build a 600 square-foot house, for owner driven houses.

Harrold said: “If we build houses in the tsunami-affected areas we would follow the provisions of the Coast Conservation Act, which has identified areas of high risk along the belt.”

He said a large number of houses were constructed during phase one and “we are very much confident of completing the phase successfully”.

Head of delegation, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, Al Panico, said the Sri Lanka Government and UN-Habitat will provide technical assistance for communities to build their houses. He said 8,000 houses would be built of which 3,500 are under construction and 540 have already been completed under the donor-driven projects.

Director General, Sri Lanka Red Cross (SLRCS), Neville Nanayakkara, said Red Cross has pledged to build 15,000 houses under donor-driven housing projects.

“Therefore the Government had the responsibility to give land to them. Any Government land, kept unutilised, will be encroached for this purpose.”

“In 2005 late June, the Government relaxed the buffer zone from 100 meters to 50 meters to build houses of their own, “ he said.

“This will help them to keep costs at a low level.”

He said the Red Cross channeled money through the World Bank because it has the infrastructure to disburse them for building owner-driven houses.

Director, Housing Reconstruction and Development Authority, Ramesh Selliah said 36,148 houses have been completed under the Home Owner-Driven Housing Programme and the Government is very keen to complete the project soon.

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