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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, September 10, 2006

A response to "The great INGO tsunami money grab"

Sunday Observer: 10/09/2006"

Reference the lead news story "The great INGO tsunami money grab" published in the Sunday Observer on August 27, 2006, World Vision Lanka States:

World Vision was disappointed that incorrect tsunami construction figures appeared in last week's Sunday Observer lead news story. As of August 31, 2006 World Vision has built 618 permanent houses in nine districts although it was reported as a "meagre 198 houses".

In addition, World Vision has also completed 489 houses upto roof level and partnered with the Semata Sarana to rebuild 1,200 homes destroyed in the tsunami in Mattakuliya.

Several weeks after the tsunami World Vision did state it wished to build 10,000 houses. However, subsequent assessments have given all NGOs a much clearer picture of how house-building responsibilities are to be divided up.

The important build pledges are now determined in the valid individual Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with the Government. In World Vision's case this is to complete 1,050 houses.

...it takes time to build homes, especially when one considers the moving goal post of the changes buffer zones, the lack of quality contractors, the rising cost of building materials, which has increased the average price of a home by 31 percent from Rs.650,000 to Rs. 850,000. World Vision is well on its way to completing it housing commitments for the South of the island. Ongoing work in the North and North-East is now threatened by the worsening conflict.

As for the suggestion made by RADA to transfer funds to Treasury, World Vision would find this unacceptable since the organisation is mandated to maintain their independence and are directly accountable to donors when implementing projects. Independent auditing by donors as well as by Price Waterhouse Coopers ensures all money is accounted for in a transparent manner.

Ranga Jayasuriya writes

The World Vision says that it has built 618 houses and not a "meagre 198" as our lead story on August 27 reported.

But, 618 is still a fraction of the initial commitment of the World Vision, which pledged to build 10,000 houses, a commitment which attracted millions of dollars from sympathetic western donors.

I however standby my figures which were provided by the state agency RADA which is coordinating tsunami reconstruction work. If there are discrepancies in the figures, it is only a pointer to the lack of coordination between the two institutions. My attempt to contact the World Vision prior to the publication of the article was proved unsuccessful as they wanted more time.

"It takes time to build houses," says the World Vision.

That we accept. But if the World Vision could build only 198 houses (or 648 houses as declared by the NGO itself) one and half years after tsunami, despite its initial pledge to build 10,000 houses, it is a fatal under performance on the part of the World Vision.

It has left thousands of tsunami victims languishing in temporary shelters.

Now the World Vision says its initial commitment for 10,000 houses has been down sized to 1050 houses, which is little more than one tenth of its initial commitment.

But, it is to build 10,000 houses that World Vision amazed donor money, which amounted to several hundred million dollars.

Will the World Vision publicly declare how much it had received as tsunami donations and of which how much has been allocated to houses? And will it declare where the rest of donor money has gone?

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