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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, August 27, 2006

The great INGO tsunami money-grab

Sunday Observer: 27/08/2006" by Ranga Jayasuriya

International NGOs which pledged to build over 70,000 houses and signed agreements for 19,600 houses, have built only a meagre 2,900 houses in 18 months after the 2004 Boxing day catastrophe.

Following this inordinate delay by the INGOs, the head of the Reconstruction and Development Agency this week urged the INGOs to transfer tsunami donor monies lying in their bank accounts to the Treasury to enable the government to fund tsunami victims to build their own houses.

CARITAS pledged to build 26,000, of which only 72 houses have been completed. World Vision Lanka pledged to build 10,000 houses, but a meagre 198 houses have been completed.

Red Cross pledged 15,000 houses, but has completed only 169 houses. Care International pledged 6,800 houses, but has completed only 125 houses.

"We urged the INGOs to transfer the moneies immediately to meet the urgent housing needs of tsunami victims," said Ms Shanthi Fernando, the Chief Operational Officer of RADA, the country's tsunami reconstruction agency.

"Some children in the western countries went without a meal to donate a few dollars to tsunami victims in Asia. Their generosity should reach the recipients," said Ms Fernando.

Majority of the INGOs, barring one had adopted a lethargic attitude over the request to transfer funds. Red Cross being the only exception, had complied to cooperate with the government and had provided 25 million US dollars to an owner-driven housing reconstruction programme.

The delay of the INGOs in tsunami housing reconstruction has left 35,000 families still languishing in temporary shelters as at the first week of August.

Under the new owner driven program, the government will provide Rs. 250,000 to buy a land and another Rs. 250,000 to begin the construction of the house.

The reconstruction agency, RADA has urged the INGOs to provide an additional Rs.250,000 to the victims to complete the construction.

Meanwhile, a top official, associated with tsunami housing reconstruction charged the INGOs of trying to "prolong" their work here thus to extend their luxury living in this country.

Most INGOs which have deposited tsunami funds in their respective bank accounts are reported to be drawing the interests accrued in such accounts.

Ms.Fernando said beginning first week of August, 11,551 houses have been built with the cooperation of local and international donors, most of them small time organisations. That is only 38 per cent of the total housing requirement.

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