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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. 

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Sri Lanka Biodiversity legislation and policy (Free PDF downloads)

Follow this link to the WHT site that makes available a large number of free downloads on Sri Lanka Biodiversity legislation and policy for the purpose of information only. Please scroll to the bootom of the page to access the papers.

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About E-LAW: "The E-LAW Network

he Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (E-LAW) gives public interest lawyers and scientists around the world the skills and resources they need to protect the environment through law. Grassroots lawyers from 10 countries founded E-LAW in 1989. Now, more than 300 grassroots lawyers and scientists in 60 countries call on the E-LAW network for critical legal and scientific tools. E-LAW advocates serve low-income communities around the world, helping citizens strengthen and enforce laws to protect themselves and their communities from toxic pollution and environmental degradation. E-LAW advocates are building a sustainable future by helping citizens participate in decisions about the environment. By giving grassroots advocates access to critical legal and scientific resources, E-LAW strengthens these advocates to challenge environmental abuses and pursue environmental justice."
Legal and Scientific Resources for Sri Lanka (Asia)

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by(Chandana Seneviratne*)
Environmental Officer (EM&A), Central Environmental Authority, Sri Lanka
1.0 Introduction
2.0 The Major Coastal Issues
2.1 Coastal Erosion
2.1.1 Sand Mining
2.1.2 Coral Mining
2.1.3 Construction of Maritime Structures
2.2 Loss and degradation of coastal habitats
2.3 Loss and degradation of archaeological historic and scenic sites
2.4 Coastal Pollution
3.0 Management Approach
3.1 Coastal Zone Management Plan (1990)
3.2 Coast Erosion Management Plan
4.0 Management Tools
5.0 Conclusions
6.0 References
Abbreviations:CCD - Coast Conservation DepartmentCEMP - Coastal Erosion Management PlanCZMP - Coastal Zone Management PlanSAMP - Special Area Management Plan
1.0 Introduction
Sri Lanka is an island with a coastline of 1,585 kilometers and a land area of 64,000 square kilometers, situated between the latitudes of 50 55' and 90 51' North and the longitudes of 790 41' and 810 54' East within the tropic of Cancer. The coastal areas are generally low-lying, and landscapes exhibit considerable variety characterized by bays, lagoons, headlands, coastal marshes and dunes. The areal extent of biologically productive mangroves systems, estuaries, coral reefs and sea grasses is decreasing due to natural and man made causes.
The development of the country has been closely related to maritime activities. Coastal regions (Defined as the AGA division with a Maritime boundary) encompasses 22% of the total extent; 32% of the country's population. 65% of the urbanized areas, 41% of the urban places, 4 out of 6 cities (population 100,000 & over) 17 out of 34 intermediate size (20000-99,999), 50% of the small size (below 20,000) towns, over 80% of tourist hotel rooms and two third of the of all industrial production of Sri Lanka. As a result the development of physical, economic and social infrastructure as well as the resource use in the coastal zone has been rapidly increased causing savior environmental degradation especially during the last 25 years.
Coastal uses including urban expansion, commercial and fisheries harbour development, river training and out fall schemes, transport and communications, recreational and tourism development, sand and coral mining have all had tremendous impact on the coastal environment. These stresses have been further aggravated by the ever present threat of coastal erosion especially occurred in the south and south western part of the country. With population growth the pressure on the resource base of the coastal zone had also proportionately increased creating new stresses on the coastal environment. Today, plans for sustainable utilization of the island's coastal resources, whether for further settlement, agricultural development, fisheries and aquaculture promotion, tourism or other purposes, underline the need for a deeper awareness and appreciation of the character of this resource base, its potentialities, problems and evolutionary tendencies.
Interest in the management of coastal problems in Sri Lanka dates from the 1920's. Efforts in this field were primarily directed towards seeking engineering solutions to curb immediate coastal erosion problems by construction of protective structures. However, the lack of understanding of the dynamic nature and complex interrelationship among ecosystems and human activities in the coastal zone resulted in an escalation of coastal problems. The realization that a comprehensive approach to coastal resource management was required led to the establishment of a coast Protection Unit in 1963. In 1978 Coast Conservation Division was established in the Ministry of Fisheries and up graded to a department in 1984. In 1981 Parliament enacted Coast Conservation Act No. 57 of 1981 and came into operation in 1983. The Act has assigned the coast Conservation Department three primary responsibilities within the designated coastal zone (Figure 1);
a) Policy formulation, planning and research;b) Administration of permit procedures regulating coastal development activitiesc) Construction and maintenance of shoreline protection works.
2.0 The Major Coastal Issues
The unsustainable manner of resource utilization, lack of planning and management initiatives created serious environmental problems in the coastal zone. These issues are discussed in the subsequent section, can be summarized as follows:
1. Coastal Erosion
2. Loss and degradation of coastal habitats such as coral reefs, mangroves, sand dunes, lagoons and marshes
3. Loss and degradation archaeological, cultural and scenic resources
4. Coastal Pollution

2.1 Coastal Erosion
Coastal erosion is a process of change that occurs at the land sea interface and sever problem in Sri Lanka that results in damage to or loss of houses, hotels and other coastal structures, undermines roads, contributes to the loss of land and disrupts fishing, navigation, recreation and other activities. The impact of coastal erosion is most severe along Sri Lanka's western and south western coasts. It has been estimated that 685 kilometers of coast line in the south, south west and the west coast, about 175,000 - 285,000 square meters of coastal land are lost each year. The principal causes of erosion includes:
- Natural process due to monsoon generated wave attacks- Man-induced changes occur due to extraction of sand and corals from the coastal zone and improperly cited buildings and maritime structures.While coastal erosion is caused by natural process, human activities such as mining of beach and river sand, mining of corals and Construction of ill - planned maritime structures are major factors contributing significantly to coastal erosion.
The "Coastal Zone" is defined in the Coast Conservation act as ....
"That area lying within a limit of three hundred meters landward of the Mean High Water Line and a limit of two kilometers seaward of the Mean Low Water Line and in the case of rivers, streams, lagoons, or any other body of water connected to the sea either permanently or periodically, the landward boundary shall extent to a limit of two kilometers measures perpendicular to the straight base line drawn between the natural entrance points there of and shall include waters of such rivers, streams and lagoons or any other body of water to the sea."
2.1.1 Sand Mining
The major source of material supply for the nourishment of beaches in Sri Lanka is from the network of rivers flowing to the sea. River sand is a prim material used in the building industry while beach sand is used for filling purposes. These resources have been traditionally considered as "free" resources and being utilized with no value added for the material itself. In the recent past the rapid growth of the housing and building industry led to increased amount of sand being removed from the rivers and beaches thus effecting the coastal stability and creating environmental problems. Phase one of the National Sand Study (1992) revealed that more than 3.1 million cubic meters of sand were mined annually from beaches, lower and upper part of the major rivers located from Puttalam to Dondra Head.
It has been calculated that the damage, in the form of land loss and/or protection comes to Rs. 25 to 30 million per annum or Rs. 9.00 per m3 of sand mined as a result of rapid level of sand mining in the coastal region, major impacts could as follows;
a) coastal erosionb) Salt water intrusion into the upstream areas and intakesc) Increase flooding originating from the sead) Water quality problemse) River bank erosion
2.1.2 Coral Mining
Mining of coral to obtain Calcium Oxide for building and for other industrial and agricultural purposes. Until recent times it was done on a limited scale and was continued in areas where dead coral deposits in coastal wetlands were found. Within the past three decades, the use of lime has increased tremendously as a rapid growth rate of building industry. A study conducted in 1984 revealed that a quantity in excess 18,000 tons of coral is extracted in the coastal reach between Ambalandoga and Dickwella. due to the controlling measures taken by the Coast Conservation Department this amount has been reduced by 48% in 1994. Coral mining activity on the south and south west coast have resulted in coastal erosion due to changes caused int he existing bottom conditions.
2.1.3 Construction of maritime structures
Construction of maritime structures such as sea walls, break waters, revetments and jetties has long been undertaken on an adhoc basis to deal with the problem of a particular beach stretch. The Master Plan for Coastal Erosion (1989) revealed that more than 49,000 meters of revetment and 6,360 meters of grayness have been constructed. Most of these structures were poorly designed and in some cases led to an increase of coastal erosion. Poorly designed fishery harbours have not only created coast erosion problems but also induced wave refraction and entry of sand bearing currents into the harbours causing siltation.
2.2 Loss and degradation of coastal habitats
The important coastal habitats of Sri Lanka are small and vulnerable to degradation. The areal extent of biologically productive mangrove systems, estuaries, coral reefs, and sea grasses is decreasing. In 1986, it was estimated that 12,000 ha of Mangroves, 23,00 ha of salt marshes, 7,000 ha of Sand dunes, 158,000 ha of lagoons located in the coastal region. These habitats are being depleted in the recent past due to over exploitation. According to the current information, current rate of depletion will reduce mangrove habitat by up to 50%. Coral reefs are still being mined for several near shore areas in the south. Destructive fishing methods are also diminishing coral reefs and sea grass.
2.3 Loss and degradation of archaeological historic and scenic sites
Sri Lanka's coastal zone contains many and diverse sites of archaeological, historical and scenic significance. These sites provide valuable evidence of the pattern and the progress of Sri Lanka culture and represent part of Sri Lanka's common heritage. The inventory of places of religious and cultural significance and areas of scenic and recreational value within the coastal zone have been identified 91 site as high priority for conservation. Today, many of these important sites are threatened with inappropriate development. In some locations, important scenic areas are being degraded and public access to the beach obstructed.
2.4 Coastal Pollution
Coastal pollution is a direct result of population pressures and misuse of land and water resources. The major sources of coastal water pollution along the south west and south coasts are domestic sewage, industrial waste, solid waste and agricultural chemicals. Growing urban population densities coupled with inadequate housing and lack of water and sewage disposal facilities, has led to faecal contamination of surface and ground water. As a result of contamination of ground water and surface water in the coastal zone major public health problems such as typhoid, hepatitis can be found. About two third of Sri Lanka's industrial plants are located in coastal regions, primarily in the Greater Colombo metropolitan region. The main industries contributing to water pollution are textile, paper , tanning, distilleries, paints and chemical production. A study conducted for the Central Environmental Authority (1994) identified 336 industrial facilities in coastal areas as "medium" or "high" pollution potential. While not associated with industrial processing activities, waste oil is of increasing importance as a source of water pollution. Oil pollution results from washing oil tanker holds, the discharge of oil in bilge water and other discharges form mechanized boats. Solid waste including garbage, refuse and other discarded materials resulting from household activities. Collecting and effectively disposing of solid waste in the coastal regions is an increasing problem. The heavy use of chemicals for agricultural fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides degrades the soil and contributes to the pollution of water in marshes, lagoons and near shore coastal water.
3.0 Management Approach
The coastal zone planning and management initiatives taken place in the recent past did not cover every coastal problem but focused upon a few well defined issues at a time and to build the program incremental as experience is gained. The policies and the procedures are being successfully implemented, and they have brought credibility and attracted funding for the effort. The first three major coastal issues mentioned above have been tackled during the first generation coastal zone management effort while coastal pollution problem being focused in the second generation effort. Thus to manage the first three major coastal issues two strategies have been adopted by the Coast Conservation Department;
1. Preparation of a National Coastal Zone Management Plan
2. Preparation of a Master Plan for Coastal Erosion
3.1 Coastal Zone Management Plan (1990)
The Coast Conservation Act also mandated the preparation and implementation of a Coastal Zone Management Plan. Thus the plan was prepared with technical assistance of the University of Rhode Island, USAID and is being implemented since 1990. The Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) 1990 can not conceived as a panacea for all the problems and issues resulting from neglect and past mis-management. The plan address only certain critical coastal issues with initial emphasis on problems causing significant economic and social losses which are more amenable to accepted management practices. In particular the plan has attempted to address problems related to coastal erosion, coastal habitats and the loss and degradation of historical and cultural sites and scenic and recreational areas.
It has also dealt with the regulatory system including the legal, administrative and fiscal functions of the Coast Conservation Department (CCD), while paying some attention to research and education. It has been considered that the plan is an incremental one and coastal zone management planning is a continuing effort. Thus the CZMP 1990 should be considered as a first generation plan and the policies and management strategies outlined therein will have to be tested and their successes and failures evaluated over time.
Implementing actions in the coastal Zone Management Plan are of several types: regulations, direct development, research, coordination, education and awareness, plan and policy development.
According to the Coast Conservation Act it is mandatory to review the CZMP in every four years time. Thus the first generation CZMP is under revision now, and the past experience reveal the necessity of inclusion of two new chapters, namely; on Pollution and Special Area Management.
3.2 Coast Erosion Management Plan
The Coastal Erosion Management Plan is an integral part of the CZMP and it was prepared in 1986 with assistance given by Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA). It defines the problem of coastal erosion in Sri Lanka within the constraints of available information at that time, and sets out the best possible technical approach towards mitigation and capital investment needed for such action. The CEMP has categorized the coastal erosion problem under "key areas" and "singular cases". The key areas refers to a coastal stretch of several kilometers in length subject to erosion problem which predicts the need for complex solution in view of its morphological complexity. The Singular cases are those isolated problem cases covering limited stretches which would not interfere with the coastal processes to an extent that would require extensive studies prior to mitigatory actions. The Plan indicated project concepts for structural solutions in erosion areas and also identified investigation needs where there is insufficient data available.
Once the Master Plan for Coastal Erosion Management was completed, DANIDA provided further assistance for two stages of coastal protection structures and beach nourishment. Stage 1 (1987 -1989), for the Negombo and Moratuwa coast protection schemes, cost an estimated Rs. 320 million ($US 6,660,000); and State ii (1990 - 1992) for protection of the main road from Beruwela to Weligama, cost approximately Rs. 500 million ($ US 10,400,000). In 1994 the Coastal Erosion Master Plan was updated and presently further donor assistance are being seeking for its implementation.
4.0 Management Tools
The existing management tools which are using to minimize major coastal issues could be categories as follows;
1. Regulations2. Director Development3. Research4. Education and Awareness5. Plan and policy development
The regulatory program as administered by the coast conservation Department is essentially reactive. The program responds to proposals made by other governmental agencies and private developers for construction and alteration of the coastline. The CCD is attempts to minimize the environmental and social impacts of development projects through its permit procedures, set-back standards, prohibitions and in some cases subjects the development proposals to the Environmental Impact Assessment requirements. It also ensures that environmentally and structurally appropriate sitting decisions are made.
A second major type of management tool is being used in the process of coastal zone management is direct development activities undertaken by government. With regard to coastal erosion management the major type of direct development is the construction of shore protection works.
A third type of management tool is to identify areas of research and conduct research. Research is necessary because often good management is precluded due to some coastal problems being inadequately understood. During the recent past CCD initiated research on problems related to implementation of the CZM Plan. The CCD has sponsored research on the social and economic aspects of coral mining and sand mining, on how to improve permitting procedures, and how to better educate and involve coastal communities in coastal zone management.
The need for environmental awareness and education in support of Sri Lanka's Coastal Zone Management Program was clearly recognized in the Coastal Zone Management Plan. The successful implementation is depend on both understanding and support of the people of Sri Lanka. Thus the coast conservation Department has implemented vigorous public awareness and education program since 1992 to date. The German Technical Assistance Agency (GTZ) has also been provided assistance for strengthening the coastal Zone Management Program including the aspects of environmental education and awareness.
Under plan and policy development, CCD is enable to focused on Special Are Management as a subsequent planning effort to CZMP. special Are Management (SAM) planning has emerged as a successful method of managing development in complex coastal settings. It is being tested in two coastal sites in Sri Lanka as an auxiliary coastal zone management tool. Based on the outcome of the present experience of SAM process, additional twenty one sites have been identified by the coast Conservation Department for future implementation.
5.0 Conclusions
The experience gain in coastal management in the recent past has shown that the scope of the endeavor must be broadened. It indicates that a collaborative effort on the part of several governmental agencies, non governmental organizations, and local communities is required and that the geographic area and issues addressed must be expanded. Thus, the future planning and management efforts in Sri Lanka must be focused more on Special Area Management to achieve the desired goals and objectives of sustainable coastal resource management.
With the establishment of the Coast Conservation Division in the Ministry of Fisheries in January 1978 marked an important mile stone in Sri Lanka's efforts at managing its coastal resources. The Coast Conservation Division was upgraded to the status of a Government Department under the said ministry in January 1984 in recognition of the magnitude of the task it is mandated to perform by the legislation. During the last seventeen years, first generation coastal zone management efforts had been successfully undertaken by the Coast conservation Department. As a result of comprehensive donor assistance programs and the contribution made by the Sri Lankan government, today its Coastal Zone Management Program could be identified as a successful model among the developing countries.
6.0 References
1. Government of Sri Lanka. 1981, Coast Conservation Act No. 57
2. Savundranayagam, T.et al. 1993, The Economic Significance of the coastal Region of Sri Lanka.
3. White, A. (Ed) 1993, Are Coastal Zone Management And Economic Development Complementary in Sri Lanka.

Yaga Bamunu Mohottallage Chandana Jayantha Senavirathne
Central Environmental Authority104-Robert Gunawardene Mawatha
Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
Email: senarathe@yahoo.com; cenaut@slt.ik

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Creating Quality Neighbourhoods in Low-cost Public Housing in Sri Lanka: Case Study: Summit Flats, Colombo

by Varuna de Silva
Chartered Architect
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Architecture
University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
This is an excerpt from the introduction to the paper.

Housing in the context of Environmental Science can be defined as “The placing of the individual family within an environment which is ideal for their well being and to which they creatively respond.” For every individual alone or as part of a family unit, a house, be it a hut or or a cave it is more than shelter. It is a place in which to fulfil the fundamental purpose of human society and live a content life. It provides a necessary fundamental sense of security. It also gives a sense of belonging to a certain community. This emphasises the fact that only satisfying quantitative requirements of a house does not create the necessary physical environment which makes the user most comfortable and it is necessary to fulfil qualitative aspects too. As far as qualitative aspects of housing are concerned, a satisfactory residential environment is expressed in terms of both physiological needs such as comfort, protection from elements etc. and psychological needs such as community and family life. This is a universal phenomenon and Sri Lanka is no exception......... Download the full paper

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Post tsunami children need mental evolution

Online edition of Daily News - Features: "by L. V. Cabral

In the recent tsunami disaster it was reported, one fourth of the victims were innocent children, the flowers of the nation. However, a substantial number of children have survived the devastation miraculously. Most of them have lost their dear parents, relatives, all their belongings and become orphans overnight! Evidently, they are at a cross roads at the crucial point of their life. No doubt, they are well looked after by the benevolent state, local and foreign benefactors and benefactresses by providing them with sustenance, food and drink for their physical growth and satisfaction. To be a perfect man he should have a healthy mind in a healthy body.

The rushing tidal waves carried away the victims dashing them against any object found on their way, injuring them physically. Such physical injuries are being cured by medical corps within a specified time but mental injuries may take a long time to be cured even by proficient psychotherapists. Shock, fear, anxiety, panic, terror and horror, all destructive negative thoughts are often embedded in the minds of the child victims. The efficient psychotherapists by effective process and techniques move away such destructive thoughts and pensive moods from their minds and fill their minds with constructive and progressive thoughts and sentiments, like, hope, ambition, aspiration, expectancy, humour and laughter.

Their unfortunate tragic past should be completely dismissed from their minds. It appears some instructors ask the tsunami victims to reveal their unfortunate experiences in the rushing tsunami waves, how they lost their parents or relatives or how they lost their belongings. Psychologically, it is very detrimental to the reformation and progress of the victims' minds. It is like scratching a wound that is being healed.

The facial expressions of sadness, brooding, cheerlessness, silence and these children imply their depressed and dispirited mind. The face is always the mirror of the mind. By judicious techniques and planning the competent therapists, regenerate and sooth the depressed, dispirited and melancholy minds of these children.

Group activities, singing, dancing, playing, taking part in plays, games, going on trips in groups, excursions, pilgrimages are recommended for remedying and rectifying the affected minds of the child victims. If properly manipulated by the child psychologists and child care experts, salutary health effects could be achieved within a considerable period.


In character formation of children, in their most impressionable ages home sweet home under loving, understanding exemplary model parents is paramount. Such fortunate children very often express their sentiments, thoughts and ideas freely without fear and embarrassment.

At school such children invariably display their talent and skill in conversation. Communication in speech by speaking freely, fluently and convincingly. They consistently show traits of leadership in all school activities. Later in life invariably they would be successful personalities in any walk of life.

On the contrary, the tsunami victims deprived of the warm, loving care and attention of their parents, like to be silent, brooding over the past traumatic disaster and live by themselves. Even at school very often, they lag behind without taking part in normal school activities. Especially their skill in speech is backward and defiant.

Therefore, those in charge of tsunami victims in orphanages and child care centres have to play a very responsible, sacred duty and obligatory role by placing themselves in the position of the destitute children's parents.

They should look after them lovingly and bring them up judiciously so that they would forget their post traumatic incidents and fit themselves to normal life in school and society and blossom in future. With a sincere and noble motive some benevolent gentlemen and ladies adopt some post tsunami children to bring them up affectionately as their own children.

Apparently, hundreds of such large-hearted, compassionate noble persons, local and foreign have come forward to adopt such unfortunate children. It is a meritorious deed . (Kusalassa Upasampada).

When the tsunami children grow up they would definitely sing their benefactors' praises and show their deep gratitude to their foster parents.

Such noble personalities would have happiness, joy, contentment and blessings eternally. "

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Humanitarian Situation Report - Sri Lanka: 22 - 24 February 2005

ReliefWeb � Document Preview � : "Main challenges and responses
According to the Human Rights Commission and Womens NGOs, sexual and gender based violence, including domestic violence and child abuse, remains a serious concern in temporary camps. Police officials in Batticaloa who deal with the concerns of women and children report rising domestic violence, alcoholism and related violence in the camps. UNICEF also reports similar concerns from camps in Ampara.

UNICEF and its protection partners are monitoring cases of physical and sexual abuse against children in all districts. In Trincomalee, the development of public awareness raising materials on child abuse is ongoing.

IOM, in response to the great need for transport in relief and rehabilitation activities, is providing free transport assistance to UN agencies, NGOs, government agencies and donors. IOM has a fleet of 52 lorries, each with cargo capacity of 10 metric tons. Other custom lorries are available for container shipments, as well as passenger buses, trailers and vans.

WFP and the Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation (MRRR) its key implementing partner, have reached new agreement related to food aid purchases. The government has banned new rice importation due to an imminent domestic rice harvest. Because of this, WFP has agreed to make some rice purchases from the local market, thus providing economic support to local farmers. Also due to the government's rice import ban, some WFP shipments already scheduled for delivery will be diverted to other destinations. WFP has been concerned regarding an apparent excessive numbers of food coupons being distributed without clear criteria as to whether such recipients actually need food assistance. In light of this, the MRRR is now closely monitoring such distribution to ensure coupons go only to those in need.

Accurate figures are not yet available on overall school attendance in tsunami stricken areas. Nevertheless, estimates provided by UNICEF suggest that school attendance is improving although in some districts, such as Galle and Trincomalee, attendance is reportedly low. In Batticaloa District estimated school attendance in Paddiruppu is 70 per cent; in Batticaloa, 60 per cent and in Kalkudah, 80 per cent. School attendance in Hambantota is reported to be 80 per cent and all schools have now resumed classes. In Matara, school attendance is also reported to be about 80 per cent. In Jaffna, attendance in non-affected schools is 90 per cent while attendance in areas where people are temporarily residing is around 55 per cent. UNICEF has been providing basic school supplies in most affected districts. "
Read the full report
Report of 18-24 Feb

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Thursday, February 24, 2005


The following media release was sent in by Sara Spears spearssara@yahoo.com on 18/02/05
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – In the midst of child abuse and trafficking scandals in Sri Lanka, the Gokulam – Bhaktivedanta Children’s Home:
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – In the midst of child abuse and trafficking scandals in Sri Lanka, the Gokulam – Bhaktivedanta Children’s Home (www.gokulam.org) provides a safe haven for 100 children orphaned by the Dec. 26 tsunami.
The Sri Lankan government recently assigned the 100 tsunami orphans to Gokulam, designating it as trustworthy and competent to give children the kind of premium care they need. In the aftermath of the tsunami, the Home stands out among service organizations in Sri Lanka as a result of its high standards for childcare.
Gokulam, an affiliate project of Food For Life Global (http://www.ffl.org/), was founded in 1999 by Nandarani Dasi. The Home offers the stability and love each child needs to live a happy, normal life. The Children’s Home is an optimal environment for needy children, with every child receiving three nutritious meals daily, along with a full education, music lessons, art, recreation, healthcare and the attention of 18 full time staff.
“We want to keep our children safe from the exploitations going on in the world today. They deserve the chance to have a hopeful future,” Nandarani said.
Gokulam has already taken in 11 tsunami orphans, and the others will be coming in over the next few months. The Home is currently constructing larger buildings to accommodate the new arrivals, and recently began various fundraising programs to help ease the financial burden of expansion.
To create awareness and aid, Gokulam began a child sponsorship program, enabling concerned citizens of the world to participate in the welfare of its disadvantaged children. The orphans of Gokulam have also designed a line of products called COTTAGE, or Children Of The Tsunami – Arts, Gifts and Education (http://www.cottageyouth.org/).
“At Gokulam, we hope our programs will create a mutually beneficial relationship between our children and the public,” Nandarani said.

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Disquiet over Sri Lanka town plan

BBC NEWS World South Asia Disquiet over Sri Lanka town plan: "By Dumeetha Luthra
The village was badly damaged by the Indian Ocean tsunami. It is a slow process, fixing the damage on the boats. Here in Hambantota, they are lined up at a makeshift yard where houses once stood. This is a Muslim community, and for generations has relied on fishing to earn a living. But with the government banning any rebuilding close to the shore and plans to relocate the town inland, they say their way of life is under threat.

Idris Zaid watches as the men mend their boats - his has been washed away. He clutches a plastic bag. He has just bought some nylon string as tackle. He refuses to move from the shore, saying it is the only place he can rebuild his life. He says the government wants to shift Muslims. "The government should have asked the people 'where you want to go and live?'. Rather than asking, they have made up plans and are going to start building houses [inland]." The fishermen refuse to go. They are saying 'we are fishermen, we have to live by the sea'. Some fishermen are receiving help. Father Indika Anthony has been working with the relief agency Caritas to provide the community with the basics. At his church, they queue up to get what they can - a mosquito net and a couple of bed sheets are gratefully received. He accuses the government of trying to win favour with some groups by disenfranchising others.

"The fishermen refuse to go. They are saying 'we are fishermen, we have to live by the sea'.
"They also say they are Muslims and merchants and Hambantota is for the Muslims and merchants. So they won't leave the place." The plan, however, has not met with universal resistance. Sitting on a plastic chair in her tent, Fareena Mahmood prays from one of the books she recovered from her destroyed home. A table sits in the corner. It is heartbreaking for a woman who owned her own business for the past 20 years. She does not mind the plans for the new township. "I am willing to go there, as long as they give us a house to live there. We are not fishermen, we can just go there and do business," she says.

Work has begun in the area. A month ago, it was a jungle of trees. Now the bulldozers have been clearing it away for a new township 4km (2.5 miles) from the sea. The government says it is a safe distance for the future. The deputy minister of plantation and industries, Chamal Rajapakse, says it has nothing to do with politics, only people's wellbeing. "Just because we suffer from tsunami, we can't allow our children to suffer. That's why we are trying to move them to a safer place and to build houses. We have planned to give them other facilities, too."

Living conditions are basic at the moment. In some refugee camps, one tap serves the needs of some 20 families. The imperative is to rebuild, but the lack of consultation means it may only make life more difficult for those who have already lost so much. "

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Schools as providers of mental health

Online edition of Daily News - Features: "by K. A. I. Kalyanaratne
With assistance from all conceivable quarters mass-scale planning and reconstruction are being carried out on a priority basis, as the immediate aim is to resettle the displaced and the tsunami affected. Along with these endeavours we need to assist the needy to stand on their feet to earn a living. But an aspect that demands our urgent attention equally is to bring stability and solace to those affected and afflicted by the dreaded natural phenomenon. Adults, in general, with their experience and the ability to apprehend reality, are expected to withstand such calamities, at least to some extent.
But it is altogether a different story for the children. In this instance, the writer reminisces on a session he had with 40 selected Principals from National Schools, on (i) The need for an organisational culture (ii) Developing an organisational culture and (iii) Introduction of good habits and practices in schools. This training program, conducted for one month in November 2004, was sponsored by the Ministry of Education. The following is a summary of observations made and pointers highlighted at these discussion. " Read More

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Impact on the elderly of the tsunami disaster

Online edition of Daily News - Features: "by Nimal Ranatunga
The recent shattering disaster triggered by the tsunami tidal giant killer waves had a degenerating, negative effect on the life of the older vulnerable persons. It is extremely difficult to ascertain the accurate number of older persons demised and victimized in this catastrophe. Correct statistics pertaining to this segment of the population are not available in the state institutions or any other organizations.
But visiting the diverse welfare centres established in the devastated areas for displaced persons, it is highly conspicuous that a good number of our older people are afflicted with social, economic and psychological traumas resulting in seclusion, marginalization, mental stress and eternal misery.
In certain welfare centres they are not considered the most vulnerable segment of the population and they are being ignored and discriminated against by others. Hence it is observed that these desperate and destitute elders are very often not accessible to the various relief emergency items at the time of distribution for the welfare centres. In the midst of other persons with strength and ability they do not possess the potentiality to overcome the constraints emerging from invisibility, isolation, exclusion powerlessness, separation and loss of status.
HelpAge Sri Lanka, a non-governmental organization working for and with the elderly, had devised an appropriate stratagem to prioritise the needs of the elders by embarking on a needs assessment on a scientific footing.
These requirements were delivered to them on a proper basis without subjecting them to needless torment and suffering. This is effected on a feasible and a concerted plan formulated by Tilak de Zoysa, Chairman - HelpAge Sri Lanka, Members of the Council of HelpAge Sri Lanka and N.W.E. Wijewantha, Executive Director of HelpAge Sri Lanka.
After meeting with some of the older persons, males and females, an ardent attempt was made to address their problems and to explore their capacities by laying emphasis on their frame of mind. This was effected mainly to,
I. To bring relief and ease to the grief stricken senior citizens.
II. To bring solace and calm the minds to tsunami elderly victims.
III. To soothe their minds and to pave the way for resilience and rejuvenation.

Hence they could be categorized into a few groups by gathering substantial information on a cross section of the community of older people.
I. Some old people live in isolation suffering immensely from this catastrophe. They have lost everything in life including those near and dear to them. They are devoid of anybody to support them.

They will be able to take shelter in the welfare centres only for a brief period. Owing to these circumstances the only abode available to them to take refuge for the rest of their life is the Elders' Home. It is extremely difficult to rekindle new hope and expectation in them as all their hopes have been shattered.
II. This tsunami disaster had forced upon few elders an additional burdensome, onerous and acute responsibility of supporting their grand children whose both parents have lost their lives. The grand-father and grand-mother are the sole saviours of these vulnerable, innocent children who are orphaned.
These elders are of opinion that it is impossible for them to face these grim challenges. This is an increasingly fragile situation for older people. They feel highly disheartened as they are incapable of supplementing the loss of traditional sources of support for the survival of these children. But these isolated older persons are forced to live with young dependants for the rest of their lives.
III. Some of these elderly males and females are in a pensive mood contemplating their future livelihood as they are completely deprived of a house to live in. Hence their only ambition is to acquire a suitable house for their living.
Though shelter is one of their priorities they are so accustomed to their traditional pattern and model of housing they do not desire to deviate from it even though a better housing system is provided. They are highly anxious to lead the same pattern of life they were familiar with prior to this emergency situation. They feel that a new environment would cause the destruction of their traditional, social structure which had been hereditary.
IV. Most of these elders suffer from the vagaries of body and mind. Some living in the welfare centres complain of acute joint and muscle pain. This is a result of sleeping on the ground. They should be provided with mattresses or should permit them to sleep on a raised sleeping area. It's well and good if physiotherapy could be administered to them to reduce joint and muscle pain.
V. Some elders who are prone to various ailments are apt to suffer without proper medication to which they are used to. Their chronic disorders without regular treatment tend to become acute. Some food given to them at the welfare centres are unsuitable for older people as such food do not agree with their digestive systems. Hence they are vulnerable to rapid debilitation caused by diarrhoea.
VI. About 90% of the elders are subjected to mental stress and immense frustration. They need proper post-trauma counselling and psychological assistance. Courage and firm determination should be instilled and inculcated in them.

The five cardinal principles embodied in the charter of 1991 by the United Nation's namely
I. Independence
II. Participation
III. Care
IV. Self-fulfilment
V. Dignity
Emphasize the significant role an elder could play in an ageing world. These principles in practice would certainly evolve a precious elder who will regain the lost social status, recognition, power and courage.
Though the evil consequences of this natural disaster had an adverse and negative impact on the life of the elderly, they could be rehabilitated to contribute an effective and constructive share for community development.
(The writer is a former Director of Education. He is at present the Director of the Education Division of HelpAge, Sri Lanka.)"

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NE schools problems discussed

Online edition of Daily News - News: "A/L students in tsunami affected schools in the North east Province are facing problems as their A/L notes have been washed away by the tsunami tidal Waves Minister Ferial Ashroff said. She suggested that all tsunami schools be provided with photocopy machines, so that notes from children of non-tsunami affected schools can be photo copied and distributed among A/L students of the affected schools. Secretary Dr. Mrs. Tara de Mel said the matter will be discussed with the President and action taken accordingly.

They were speaking at a meeting held at "Isurupaya" to discuss problems related to eastern Province Education. Minister Ferial Ashraff chaired the meeting. Secretary of Ministry of Education Dr. Tara de Mel Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Construction Industry Eastern Province Education and Irrigation Development Mallika Karunaratne, Senior Assistant Secretary of North East Province Ministry of Education M.M. Haniffa, and Education Ministry officials participated.

Minister Ferial Ashraff said 193 Sinhala langauge teachers had been recently appointed to schools in the Eastern Province. The minister said she has been made to understand that there had been malpractices in making the appointments. This matter had been brought to the notice of the Ministry of Education and a committee had been appointed to make necessary investigations and report.

She said in year 1994 Sinhala language trainee teachers were appointed to Tamil schools in the North East Province. Tamil langauge trainee teachers were appointed to Sinhala schools. Such teachers have not yet been made permanent and Secretary Ministry of Education declared that necessary action would be taken with regard.

Minister Ferial Ashraff said there was a shortage of English teachers in the Eastern Province. For the last 3 years some teachers are serving on contract basis and therefore the Education Ministry should train them to be given them permanent appointments. Most of the Schools in the North East Province have no permanent principals. Senior teachers are serving on acting basis and hence necessary action has to be taken to make the principals permanent, she said.

Minister said teachers and principals have been requesting for promotions for several years but the requests have not been considered. Therefore the Minister said their service and seniority should be considered at the next promotions scheme."

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UN Situation Report

UNICEF Situation Report Sri Lanka
21 February 2005

UNICEF highlights
· UNICEF drafts a framework for psycho-social response to guide all future activities
· UNICEF embarks on a strategic planning exercise to put in place a three year strategic framework for post-tsunami activities
· Training for the second phase of the joint needs assessment begins this week, with participation of UNICEF staff
· Follow-up assessments for 43 out of a total of 45 unaccompanied children have now been completed
· Hygiene promotion is a major focus of UNICEF activities in all districts.
· Concern over growing media hostility towards the UN in the aftermath of the SG’s visit and condolences over the death of senior LTTE official.
Download the report

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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Hikkaduwa Aid Information Centre

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog: "Hello, my name is Jack Harding (rebuildhikkaduwa@yahoo.com) I have recently set up an Aid Information Centre for the Hikkaduwa area, as there seemed to be many different organisations operating independently and there was no place where you could go to find out what was going on and what needed doing! So now the centre is up and running, so I thought I'd let you know, in case there were volunteers that wanted to know what was going on in this area or anything and needed a central place to go for information. The address is 326 Galle Road, Hikkaduwa, just over the road from the Coral Sands Hotel - look for our big blue sign - or the number is 091 43 83 180."

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Helping Children Work Through Trauma In Sri Lanka A Guide for Caregivers

Helping Children Work Through Trauma In Sri Lanka A Guide for Caregivers: "Compassionate response from the global community has brought much attention to the needs of children affected by the tsunami and its aftermath. This basic manual is intended to provide support to caregivers who wish to address the specific needs of children during the six-month period following the event. Much more can be said, and certainly much more has been written about trauma and children than is mentioned in this guide. Many resources are available to families and professionals, but few take into consideration the underlying cultural needs of this gentle nation. After a great deal of time in discussion with community leaders, local teachers, parents and caregivers as well as considering the many different spiritual traditions of this unique culture, this guide has been assembled as a prelude to an ongoing effort to support Sri Lanka in the months and years ahead. With the deepest respect, I hope this guide will be of value to every child and caregiver now and in future generations. ----William Spear of Fortunate Blessing Foundation"
Download the Manual

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Sri Lankan Forum - Accomodation Crisis After the Tsunami: Please Help

Sri Lankan Forum - Accomodation Crisis After the Tsunami: Please Help: "
I appreciate if you publish this article or send it to appropriate govt./political individuals who can take some action on this important issue: I am writing this as a Sri Lankan and a chartered civil engineer who undertook leadership tasks of building homes and infrastructure while working at State Engineering Corp and NWS&DP for over 6 years. I currently work in the US after earning my Ph.D. I lost my mother, a sister and many relatives in Peraliya, the village that was given world a view due to train that swept away with killing over 1000 passengers. Village lost few hundred people and over 90% of the homes. The government efforts to build houses at least with 500 sq.ft. floor area is commendable. Also, I heard from some families in affected areas that the govt. has already started building on the original foundations of broken houses giving the families same size houses. This is important because these families have to maintain their social status and it is important to consider everyone who lost homes were not poor. The affected people belong to poor-upper middle class status prior to tsunami. I am concerned that some NGO's such as Habitat for Humanity is trying to raise the number of houses they built by constructing shanties for Rs. 50,000 each. Every Sri Lankan knows that for Rs. 50,000 what you can expect and I think this kind of activities should be stopped by the government. When the govt. is preparing to build a decent home why we allow this kind of organizations to build shanties and bring the families to a status we Sri Lankans do not want to see. We need progress and not shanties for them to claim in their advertisement campaigns that they build thousands of homes. I would like this message to be heard by the Sri Lankan govt. as well as people of Sri Lanka and reject their backward attitudes toward our country.
Sincerely, Mangala Jayasuriya, Ph.D. email: mjaya12@yahoo.com "

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Traditional Belief System of Health in Sri Lanka

Banda Seneviratne: Traditional Belief System of Health in Sri Lanka: "A comparative study of the traditional health services of a new farm settlement (Mahaweli System C) and its respective home villages, Sri Lanka. The article was edited and brought on-line by Tormod Kinnes. "

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Preventing another disaster

Online edition of Daily News - Features: "by Tharuka Dissanaike

It was heartening to know from friends working in relief operations across the island that many donors have agreed to fund money-for-work- programmes with the tsunami displaced population. This not only creates employment for the people who have lost homes, boats and livelihood, but also performs a much-needed task. The clearing of rubble and debris from the devastated areas.

This is an essential first step towards rehabilitation- both of people and of the physical infrastructure that has been destroyed in one sweep on that fateful December 26th.

But the rehabilitation process could create another type of disaster. An environmental catastrophe- if planners and administrators are not careful. At local level, some of these adverse impacts are already becoming obvious. Cleared rubble- in the form of masonry from buildings, destroyed household effects, steel and glass, plastics and broken wood are all dumped in the first available space and these are often environmentally sensitive areas like waterways, marshlands or paddy tracts.

In many areas people have taken advantage of the post-Tsunami administrative disarray to fill their marsh/ paddy lands with rubble. Earlier filling up of such properties were against the law (or one had to go through complicated procedure to get permits for land filling) but now no one is really monitoring where the rubble is going- the primary concern is to clear it off the destroyed locations.

The attention finally turns towards the impact of such indiscriminate dumping, it may be too late to undo the damage to flood retention areas, which are vital in many parts of our coastline to prevent monsoon and flash floods.

While many organisations, including UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) recommends recycling of construction rubble, this has not caught on in a big way.

Obviously practical aspects such as this cannot be decided upon and implemented by the center, or the Ministry of Environment based in Colombo. It has to be the responsibility of the local authorities to ensure that such practices become part of the entire rehabilitation process, in effect imparting some sense of environmental concern to the displaced population.

A rapid assessment of the threat of pollution carried out by the UNEP right after the disaster, points out that while the coastline has taken a considerable battering from the tsunami, ecosystems and natural habitats have shown amazing resilience to the force of nature. But these natural environments may now face a different danger as people look for land to erect temporary shelters and cut down trees and mangroves to make money or reconstruct homes.

The study points out that the lack of decent sanitation in many of the temporary camps is an issue of serious concern. It is a great shame that almost two months after the disaster, all the multitude of actors in this arena have been unable to implement a workable temporary sanitation plan for the refugee shelters in phase two (which is tented accommodation). The lack of proper sanitation will naturally impact on waterways, scrub and wetlands of areas housing refugees, especially during rains.

The sand dunes of Kalpitiya managed to withstand the tsunami and survive well, but the dunes are now being systematically destroyed by large scale sand mining most of this sand is going to tsunami affected areas to aid the rebuilding of towns and other infrastructure.

So inadvertently the rehabilitating of Tsunami destroyed areas is causing the steady destruction of other important and environmentally sensitive locations in the country.

This aspect needs urgent attention before it is too late to repair the damage. For the sand dunes of Kalpitiya it may already be a day too late. "

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Globalization and Male-Female Wage Inequality in Sri Lanka: Short Run and Long Run Impacts

Globalization and Male-Female Wage Inequality in Sri Lanka: Short Run and Long Run Impacts: by Jeevika Weerahewa, Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka." This paper forms part of the 'Exploring the Links Between Globalisation and Poverty in South Asia' study which is part of the Globalisation and Poverty Programme, funded by the Department For International Development (DFID) UK. The Programme includes fourteen projects on a three-year programme of research exploring the linkages between globalisation processes and poverty. " Full Paper

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Tsunami Ecological Assesment -Urgent Brief

Tsunami Ecological Assesment -Urgent Brief: "A Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment of Tsunami on Protected Areasfor the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) of Sri Lanka


At the request of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and in following the terms of reference established by the seven member steering committee, the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society with assistance from The Nature Conservancy undertook a rapid assessment of the environmental impacts of the tsunami on key protected areas in the South and South East of the country.

Our terms of reference, briefly, were:

At four sites (Hikkaduwa, Unuwatunne, Mirissa & Polhena) we carried out surveys of the reef through diving and snorkeling at points along the reef at a depth between 2m and 27m. Two divers, 3m apart, observed signs of major coral breakage, large debris, clarity, and % live coral along 100 m transects on the reef. At each site between three and four transects were conducted. At each site a local diver was involved in the collection of this information.

Our summary findings are:

Visibility at all sites was extremely poor, 2 – 3m on most dives including the deep dive at over 25m. The water had a great deal of what looked like organic sediments. Reports from local divers indicate that this time of the year the visibility was usually 20 to 30m. Live coral coverage was in most places around 10 – 20 %, a result of coral bleaching. The notable exception is at Polhena with greater amounts of live coral. The coral showed only minimal signs of recent breakage, most notably at Hikkaduwa, where several large fragments of live coral were found. In all, the live coral seemed to have fared well through the tsunami. Recently transplanted coral (part of a pilot restoration program) at Hikkaduwa remained virtually untouched in just 2 m of water. A great deal of large debris (pipes, building materials, boat fragments) litter the reef and wave action poses a grave and continual threat to the reef. These must be removed immediately. Four fishing nets, one 40m, long can be found on the reef at Hikkaduwa, still killing fish. Beaches, except at Hikkaduwa, remain a major source of ocean pollution and is strewn with debris. There is virtually no education or visible enforcement of marine protection regulations at any of the sites we visited.

Terrestrial Surveys

We first examined the impact of the tsunami on several different ecosystems including, beach, dune, wetland, marsh, and arid scrub forest. We coordinated our efforts with those of Dr. P. Fernando (Center for Conservation Research –CCR) who was conducting a detailed study of the impact on vegetation at certain select locations.

Having exhausted the feasible options to go by 4WD, by foot, and by boat we carried out the surveys along inaccessible coast lines by using a helicopter to trace the outline of the wave all the while recording our exact position using satellite imagery. We flew 80 km of coastline (280 km of flying in total) following the coast line from Bundala to Okanda. We mapped the extent of the wave impact by tracking and recording on high quality GPS units the zone of impact recognized by debris and vegetation changes. We carried out this survey at an altitude of between 120 m and 150 m.

Our summary findings are:

The impact of the tsunami on the intact coastline of the Bundala and Yala National Parks is severe (at least at first look) but localized. There is major structural damage to the vegetation and the grass is almost uniformly brown in areas inundated by the water. However, there is already extensive signs of re-growth and regeneration The total grassland, forest, and wetland area directly impacted is about 5000 ha in Yala National Park. This does not include the beach and dunes. A couple of ponds remain saline while most have reverted to freshwater with amphibians and many animal tracks nearby. There is a major emergent infestation of prickly pear cactus, which because of the tsunami has been broken and spread through out the impact zone, particularly at human habitation sites in Yala (e.g. where the Browns Beach Hotel stood).
Much of the vegetation covering Kumana wetlands in the north end of Yala has been at least temporarily inundated. It appears brown in color and has been blown down by the wave. A close field inspection is needed to verify the impact. Regeneration of vegetation, rather than succession, appears to be prevalent in affected areas.

Proposed Action Items


Immediate national and international media release by DWC regarding outcomes of meeting, key findings, and next steps of DWC and NGO response to Tsunami impact. [DWC]


Develop with NARA and IUCN a bullet point action plan for the recovery of this important marine park. Key partners include Open University, CCD, SLWCS, DWC, NPPA and SL Navy with the CRMP.

February 2nd meeting in Colombo to finalize plans

Coordinate priority list of activities for Hikkaduwa and other Southern coastal coral reefs
Tasks (in order of importance)
i. Prevent debris from being dumped either on the coast or in the sea as the impact on fishing and recreational use of the areas as well as the environment itself will be too great.

ii. Clean up debris on reef and beach –fishing nets, sunken boats, large metal objects, construction material, housing materials, and other large debris with potential to continually damage reef/beach. Employ local community to assist in clean up efforts

iii. Licensing and regulations for glass bottom boats and dive shops

iv. Demarcation of boundary of park on ocean and land

v. Establish a minimum of 3 mooring buoys for dive boats

vi. Education and enforcement activities maintained through a permanently station DWC ranger with access to working motorized boat.

vii. Coral reef restoration using replanting techniques piloted here 4 years ago.


2. Support IUCN/DWC in the following

a. Setting standards for turtle hatchery operators. Promoting good practices following principles already studied by IUCN/TCP.

b. Turtle nest protection in key areas and establishment of Rekawa/Lunama-Kalamatiya Turtle Refuge (elevation of conservation status from sanctuary).

c. Re-deploy turtle nest protection rings.


1. Immediate removal of prickly pear along beach

2. Seining/Salinity testing by NARA

3. Biodiversity map of area

4. Bird census by FOGSL/CBC

5. Mangrove restoration by IUCN

6. Involve community in invasive species removal and restoration work.


1. Immediately notify hotels to do environmental/beach cleanup, give them place to dump waste and debris. Effort to be monitored by CEA.

2. Immediate removal of prickly pear under community employment scheme. [DWC/CCR/SLWCS]

3. Monitoring regeneration or succession and watch for spread of invasives in select sites in Block 1 and ideally Block 2 and Kumana [Led by CCR. Logistical support by SLWCS]

4. Determine nature of Tsunami impact on Kumana swamp where several hundred hectares appear affected from aerial survey. [Led by CCR. Logistical support by SLWCS]

5. Establish Tsunami Recovery Information Center as part of upgrading of visitor center. Video of fly over for presentation at Yala. Permanent record of impact and recovery of natural system for tourists and interested scientists. Design and layout of Tsunami Visitor Center at Yala office. [Led by SLWCS/TNC. Scientific input by CCR]

6. Very High (1m) resolution satellite imagery of affected areas –analysis and procurement [Led by TNC/SLWCS]

7. Biodiversity map of area [Led by CCR. Logistical support by SLWCS]

The Nature Conservancy and the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society acknowledge the generous support provided for this assessment by the Seedling Foundation and by National Geographic Society. We also greatly appreciate the support of Yala Village Hotel and Decaan Aviation as well as the other institutions involved in this assessment.

Assessment Team:

Ravi Corea (SLWCS), Dr. Sanjayan Muthulingam (TNC), Timothy Boucher (TNC), Chandeep Corea (SLWCS)


CBC – Ceylon Bird Club

CCR – Centre for Conservation Research

CCD – Coast Conservation Department

CEA – Central Environmental Authority

CRMP – Coastal Resources Management Project

DWC – Department of Wildlife Conservation

FOGFL – Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka

IUCN – International Union for the Conservation of Nature

NARA – National Aquatic and Resources Agency

NGO – Non Governmental Organization

PPA – Pollution Prevention Authority

SLWCS – Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society

TCP – Turtle Conservation Project

TNC – The Nature Conservancy

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UDA earmarks lands for new houses

Online edition of Daily News - News: "Wadduwa special correspondent
Urban Development Authority has identified lands to construct six thousand houses in Panadura, Kalutara and Beruwala Divisional Secretariat divisions to families whose houses were destroyed due to tsunami catastrophe. It was revealed at a conference held at Kalutara Secretariat that one acre of land from Gorkagahawatta, ten acres from Jayantha Children's Home at Payagala, three acres from Walauwatta, three acres from Bubulandawatta in Beruwala Divisional Secretariat division for the construction of new houses.
Seventeen acres have been identified from Mihikatawatta, five acres from Thilakawatta, eight acres from Thekkawatta and eight acres from Lagos Estate to construct houses in the Kalutara Divisional Secretariat division. Four acres from Wevagamawatta, seven acres from Modaravilawatta, five acres from Kiriberiya and five acres from Veruduwatta to construct new houses in Panadura Divisional Secretariat division. The new houses will be two or three storeyed buildings with essential facilities. The construction work will be commenced before the end of this month."

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Fast-paced revival in Matara

Online edition of Daily News - News: "Reconstruction activities are being expedited in the tsunami-hit Matara district. The committee on the Matara City Renewal Action Program (McRAP) recently reported the progress of its work to Ports and Aviation Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Samaraweera, who is also the Chairman of the overall reconstruction program of the Matara District, reviewed the progress of the Midigama project, being implemented by the Turkish Government to construct a new modern township with 500 houses and all other community and public utilities in Weligama. The project proposal to develop Polhena site in Matara, totally destroyed by the tsunami, was also reviewed. A modern housing settlement with 300 units will be constructed for the benefit of affected families in the area. The other on-going housing projects in the Matara district including Nupawela and Kammalwatte in Matara (80 and 35 units respectively), Kandegodella in Devinuwara (100 units), Kandepamula in Weligama (30 units) were also discussed. The Matara District Secretary was instructed to expedite the acquisition of lands to enable McRAP committee to speed up the allocation of lands to housing and community development projects lined up for implementation."

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Humanitarian Information Centre for Sri Lanka

Welcome to HIC - Humanitarian Information Centre for Sri Lanka: "
The HIC is a common service to the humanitarian community working in Sri Lanka. The HIC is managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), and operates in coordination with a number of partners including; read more "

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Sri Lanka relief log : February

BBC NEWS Wales Sri Lanka relief log : February: "Daisy Lowe, the president of the Sri Lankan Association of South Wales, has travelled to Sri Lanka to help in the aftermath of the tsunami. The disaster has left more than 30,000 in the country dead and 835,000 have been made homeless.

Ms Lowe is sending back diary reports from the country.

Left for the Finance Ministry to get the final clearance. Arrived at about 1100hrs. Met by one of my niece's friends who took us to the trade and industry section. Handed in the applications and were told to come back at 1500hrs. I explained that I was flying the same night and had very little time to get the rest of the clearance done and the time was brought forward an hour. I had to ring my niece again and eventually we got the deed done by 1300hrs. On then to the Document Centre in Fort, which was quite tricky to find as it was in an alley way and did not have a board . We were then told that we needed to get Customs clearance prior to getting the demurrage waiver. As it turned out, we did not need it at all for tsunami relief!! On to the shipping agents. We needed a clearance agent. The manageress telephoned around, but most did not want to clear tsunami relief. Eventually, the subsidiary of Hayleys agreed to see us. After inspecting the documents and telling me we needed more documents he sent us on our way. There was one agent who had no hesitation taking this on. Moreover told us we had done all the necessary clearance and once we had rubber stamps for both the Moratuwa Lions and the NCC. for customs requirements, he would have it cleared without a problem. Smiles all round! I left feeling a lot happier. It was going to cost a bit, but the aid was at last beginning to appear on the horizon. Feedback from Colombo is that the containers will be de-stuffed within the port and taken to the agents yard, loaded and sent on it¿s merry way to the victims of the disaster at last. The other two containers sent to the Red Cross will be cleared in due course and handed over to the N.C.C. for distribution. The TRO will handle their own."
Daisy Lowe's Diary

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Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka Facing Labor Shortage

Iran Daily: "Sri Lanka, Feb. 20--Sri Lanka, an exporter of skilled labor to the Middle East, is now facing a severe shortage of workers for its giant post-tsunami reconstruction plan. Sri Lanka needs at least 100,000 workers for building projects as it grapples with the reality that it will need many more for other long-term infrastructure projects.
"There's a severe shortage of skilled labor in the country," said Dakshitha Thalgodapitiya, chief executive officer of the Chamber of Construction Industry. He said the requirements for labor include about 13,000 masons, 2,000 carpenters, 2,500 painters and nearly 54,000 unskilled laborers.
"This requirement is purely for post-tsunami building, largely housing projects. It's apart from the regular ongoing projects and long term infrastructure projects," Thalgodapitiya told AFP.
Sri Lanka needs about 150,000 houses for tsunami survivors across the country compared with the 20,000 new homes constructed annually. Every year Sri Lanka produces about 20,000 skilled laborers, many of whom leave for greener pastures in Persian Gulf states. About a million Sri Lankans are employed in the Persian Gulf and send home about a billion dollars annually.
"Given the current situation, the country has no capacity to execute the nearly $1.5 billion reconstruction program," Thalgodapitiya said. But he said the situation was not all gloom and doom.
Industry players say the government has launched a massive training program to churn out new professionals and deploy them as soon as possible. "What we need is a micro-enterprise approach, which means making working capital available to artisans from the tsunami affected areas and asking them to build a team of laborers," Thalgodapitiya said. "In a span of four to five months we can generate the required number, provided we adopt out-of-the-box thinking approach, otherwise it is tough to execute such a reconstruction program." Experts say the laborers have to be highly skilled given the post-tsunami requirements.
Apart from the manpower shortage, Sri Lanka is also facing a crunch of building materials such as cement, sand and steel. Sri Lanka produces 3.2 million tons of cement annually and it will need 20 percent more every year for the next few years to meet the reconstruction needs. "We can import cement in bulk or in bags directly from countries like India or Malaysia and meet the need," said Thalgodapitiya."

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The rebuilding phase

Frontline, V .S. SAMBANDAN in Colombo : "A MONTH after the tsunami, and after a flood of high-profile visitors, the first international assessment of Sri Lanka's worst natural disaster has concluded that the island-nation will need around $1.5 billion if it is to "effectively implement" a recovery and reconstruction strategy.

The losses from the tsunami, which lasted just about an hour across the coastal districts, were estimated at $1 billion - nearly 4.4 per cent of Sri Lanka's gross domestic product (GDP) by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the World Bank. A "large proportion" of the losses was concentrated in housing, tourism, fisheries and transportation. Around $500 million will be required as "external financing in the short term" for the current year.

Referring to the issues of implementation that are likely to take centre stage in the coming months, the agencies called for transparency and inclusiveness in the reconstruction and rebuilding phase. These two issues have already started showing up in public discussions, with the Opposition United National Party (UNP) demanding transparency and the left-radical Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) raising the issue of the involvement of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Although these two issues have not flared up to crisis proportions, they have the potential to dominate the political posturing. The views on transparency and inclusiveness expressed in the report gain significance, particularly against the possibility of an emerging scenario of political positioning as the impact of the disaster recedes from public memory.

Emphasising the need for "strong monitoring, transparency and accountability" to "ensure that the millions of dollars of external assistance reach their intended sources and are utilised efficiently," the report said: "Nothing is more demoralising for the people in need and those trying to help them than to hear that funds are being siphoned off or wasted." It was therefore "imperative" that "all key stakeholders in this - the government, the international community, civil society and the LTTE - agree upon a transparent monitoring and accounting system for all the resources that will be deployed in the reconstruction effort".

Hours before the report was released on February 2, the Sri Lankan Secretary for Public Security, Tilak Ranaviraja, conceded that only 70 per cent of the affected people had received state backing, owing to "bureaucratic bungling" and "ignorance on the part of tsunami survivors". This admission by the government further emphasises the need for concerted action.

The assessment, which was prepared in "close cooperation" with the Sri Lankan government, "sets out clear guiding principles" for reconstruction, with "an important emphasis on the inclusion of affected communities" in planning and rebuilding.

At least 31,000 persons were killed, and nearly 4.43 lakh persons displaced by the tsunami. Some 6,300 are reported missing. "Of those killed, 27,000 belonged to fishing families. Around 65 per cent of the country's fishing fleet - 29,700, boats - has been completely destroyed or damaged," according to the report.

AMONG the hardest hit were the people in the eastern districts - described by the report as those who were "already vulnerable due to the civil conflict" - which suffered "well over 40 per cent of the total damage". The damage the tsunami did to the island-nation's education system has been estimated at $21 million, with 168 public schools and 18 vocational centres damaged. In the health sector, "around 92 local clinics, hospitals and drug stores were either destroyed or damaged, causing disruptions to delivery of health services and patient care," the report said. Significant losses were also registered in power, transportation (roads and railways), water supply and sanitation. The damage to the tourism sector was estimated at $200 million, and the estimated inflow of tourists was revised downward from the all-time high of five lakh visitors in 2003 to one lakh for the current year.

The "guiding principles" outlined by the three institutions stress the importance of non-politicisation and non-discrimination in the allocation of resources - both domestic and international), decentralisation, local empowerment, and a coordinated approach to prevent duplication in activities. The report also recommended a "vigorous process of public consultation" and suggested that Sri Lanka develop a "risk management approach".

At the national level, a report by the Sri Lankan Department of Planning also placed the provisional reconstruction cost at $1.5 billion. According to the government's estimate, the highest expenditure will be under the Housing and Townships sector ($400 million), followed by fisheries ($200 million). As these two sectors have a direct bearing on the future of the coastal communities, the imperative for coordination, consultation and inclusiveness gains more significance.

The damage to housing, according to government figures, has been extensive, with the tsunami wrecking 135 townships in 12 districts. The government says it plans to reconstruct the townships at an estimated cost of $300 million. Each township would consist of modern components for living, administration, recreation and business.

The government also decided to declare a 100-metre buffer zone, but there is uncertainty over the feasibility of the proposal. As most of the affected fishing households dot the coasts, the need for consultation gains importance. There has been a mixed response to the government proposal on two counts - the lack of effective communication and the feeling that the decisions were made without any form of consultation.

In a public notice, the Presidents' Office said the government would identify lands closest to the affected villages and build a house for "every affected house owner who lived within the said 100 metres". It also said that the owners of houses that were in the 100-metre-zone "will retain the ownership of his original land" and that the government "will not in any way claim ownership to such property".

Moreover, the owner would be "entitled to appropriate the land (within the 100-metre-zone) as he wishes, except building on it", and the government would "extend patronage to planting coconut or any other suitable crop in those lands", the President's Office said.

As Sri Lanka moves from relief to reconstruction, with promises of financial largesse from the international community, the need for consultation and inclusiveness gains more importance than ever before.

The tsunami-hit island has been promised a lot of international assistance, but the rebuilding effort, to have long-term benefits, would have to be largely indigenous. The impending phase of rebuilding and reconstruction also provides Sri Lanka the opportunity to move towards a greater degree of local empowerment and relative self-sufficiency. "

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North Western Province to ban sand mining

Clombo Page, 2/20/2005
Feb 20, Colombo: The North Western Province Provincial Council has decided to ban sand mining in Kalpitiya Peninsula, Puttalam district, with immediate effect. The decision has received the approval of Christian Affairs Minister Milroy Fernando. The residents of Kalpitiya, Mundel and Daluwa have protested illegal sand mining, a threat to their existence. “We have decided to ban the sand mining with immediate effect,” Minister Fernando said. But the police say they have not received any instructions to that effect, adding that they have only received an order from the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau regarding a ban on mining and transport of sand in some areas of the peninsula.

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The feminine force behind Sri Lanka’s need

(Sunday Island 20th Feb. 2005) By, Lorna Wright

Hope. The tidal wave of hate and distrust one ethnic group for the other in nationalist issues, that threatened to engulf this beautiful island - North, South, Center, East and West had seemingly receded after the Tsunami. The cry for a while of togetherness was give, give. Everyone basking in the warmth of love and goodwill. In this glow of heart-centeredness and magnificent generosity by Sri Lankans and friends abroad, one and all faced the New Year after the Tsunami with Hope. There was no criticism and an alienated posture was not seen or permitted. But as always, nothing is done right`D3 rhetoric has crept in. The monotonous moan, groan, gossip and grumble - the he said, she said, you said, we said, they said, is beginning to chill and depress.
It MUST Stop
The Tsunami has come and gone - destroyed much. Citizens must rebuild. There are solutions, but they must be implemented. There are many, many committed dedicated EXPERIENCED CITIZENS - Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus of established Womens ORGANIZATIONS who could and would determinedly not drift on a cloudland of mere dissent and criticism - But act. There is so much for millions of hands to do, not only workshops, seminars, conferences. Beaurocratic plans, restricted by the FR and AR (Financial and Administrative Regulations). We are not advocating feminism, Dr. T. Kariyawasam ex Dir-Gen National Institute of Education (NIE) and National Integration Program Unit (NIPU), We women constitute more than 50 percent of our population. They are a human resource, which should be recognized for the development process of our country. Our vision and mission is to make our worthy contribution to the enhancement of our people. We are only advocating Feminity. The energy, idealism and intelligence of WOMEN with experience are the prime resource of a nation. Women must be involved in the mainstream of national life.
The country today is plunged into utter poverty. Three hundred thousand are homeless. Nearly 36,000 have lost their lives. What a devastated society needs most is food. Semistarvation generates warped perceptions. Our priority should be to provide them with a balanced diet. Indigenous food. For that purpose an inexpensive lean-to Kitchen with fuel conserving hearth is a necessity.
The Private Sector steering a conservative course, will not assist on a large scale. Firmly stating productivity levels are low in Sri Lanka. These youth in addition are highly politicized, unionized and lack discipline and commitment.
World of work
The Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Authority, Piyasena Gamage with Chairman Cmdr. Lionel Pinto of VTA have worked out a MoU - Memorandum of Understanding in a World of Work programme. Members of Memory of Mother Foundation (MOM) with the VTA will bring together well-established Women NGOs with islandwide branches and membership. This in an immediate implementation program.
To impart skills training it must be cost effective. Very much needed are MONIES FOR MATERIAL USED AND THERE must BE AVAILABLE A HANDS-ON JOB. Drop-outs-youth unemployed, will not take block-board instruction chalk and talk. After the Tsunami MONIES are available - JOBS are available. What is needed is implementation. If youth unemployed, army deserters could with these jobs be given, after trade testing a National Certificate, a uniform which makes the job distinct from manual menial work, (Thathweya is important) the country makes a substantial dent in 1.5 million unemployment figures.
The VTA will with Central office space, and personnel assist with administration, financial accountability and supervision of NGO utilization of funds received for Tsunami reconstruction.
A meeting on February 3rd at the VTA Ministry brought senior women together from long established organizations.
Dealing with poverty, officials of the Business and Professional Women’s Association have built a global village at Illukpitiya in the Polonnoruwa District. They have built 30 houses and now have experience of a job done well. They plan for 120 houses. The materials were supplied, the villagers themselves built the houses. They need to have the lean-to kitchen with fuel conservation hearth, toilet and well.
The Lanka Mahila Samithi working 75 years with rural communities found four of their Montessori Schools in Galle and Matara in shambles. The VTA Matara District Vocational Center at Talalla will assist with skilled labour and know-how. The youth participating, with LMS supervision will be trade tested in grade 1,2 or 3 and get the National Certificate. Money for building material will be provided.
The LMS is one of the oldest Women’s Organization in Sri Lanka. Worked the past 75 years for the rural communities in skills training -Kaduwela the main center. Focus is on agricultural activities, pre-school education, health education with emphasis on nutrition, safe motherhood and childcare. LMS has 140 nursery schools in remote villages in 16 districts.
Local food and herbs
The Housewives Association with branch organizations and a membership of 5000+ will encourage the concentration on Indigenous food and medicine preparations and the growing of herbs, which are now imported from India. Medical plants are an important resource of the South Asia Countries Estimates state that 80% of the world population depend on traditional medicines tor their health needs. It is an important income source for rural communities, especially for the stay-at-home mother. Also make aware that waste control, recycling and correct use of Cleaning Agents are hidden earnings in the Home. Running a Home and family demonstrates that Knowledge is necessary. Marriage today is a multifaceted business.
The ACWBC- All Ceylon Women`D5s Buddhist Congress supports very much the collected efforts of all women irrespective of religion. Participation and assistance where possible could be relied on.
The Methodist Mission could and would reach out to very large numbers. In reconstruction work both in the South and North the Mission has already built lean-to kitchens with fuel saving hearths. The rural poor find it a boon. A program Each One Reach One has been drawn up with long term measures to rehabilitate the 100,000 families now in transit camps-Homeless, jobless and helpless. Dr. Ajantha Perera with Leo Fonseka drawing up plans seek to establish a nation-wide network of Partner families and an International network of foster families.
The Kantha Abivuridi Sangamaya-Sinhala women’s organization, long established has the trained personel to assist. Indrani Iriyagolla, untiring worker with rural women in particular needs the support a Ministry of Skills Training could give. She will participate in this World of Work program with much enthusiasm.
AL Muslimanath has a membership of 10,000, throughout the country. The Muslims with access to an English education are in an academically oriented system, and are very unemployable when they leave. Dr. Marina Refai now insists they must acquire TRADE Skills. The re-building now required would help them change their attitude to skills training, specially when they acquire a National Trade Certificate, after Trade Testing, a passport to employment-abroad.
Veteran woman activists, the Sri Lanka Womens Conference, associates with a consortium of 45 Women NGOs. Three SLWC branches of the six are functioning, and have links with other NGOs on joint programs. Gender mix or all male like-minded. Established in 1927, when Lady Daisy Dias Bandaranaiyake was President, the SLWC was affiliated to the International Alliance of Women, which had consultative Status with the United Nations. To-day Nina Guruge of Galle alerts Colombo to a need to work with IDPs in Katugoda in the Galle, District, destroyed by the Tsunami.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) WITH Women`D5s organizations and one and all while sharing ideas and plans with VTA will implement and train in trade skills, throughout the island in this WORLD OF WORK program.
In 1881 W. R. Wallace, penned a few lines 'the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.' Over a hundred years later there seems to be no limitation placed over that power or any willed self-effacement.

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Sunday, February 20, 2005

A monthly broadsheet for tsunami aid

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "
There has been no true knowledge among people who after all matter the most, of the volumes and natures of International Aid. The purpose of the aid itself have seen confusion, even duplication and non-use. The government must display a monthly broadsheet in all newspapers, containing the state of fundings, their sources, natures, disbursements and overall co-ordination in a grand table addressed to the people of the country, and as implementing guide to the government, right down to the lowest government installations for the next phase.
Prof. C. Suriyakumaran, Colombo 3. "

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Accounting system for post tsunami funding

Online edition of Sunday Observer - Business: "by V. R. K. de Silva.
The tsunami brought with it an unprecedented tragedy and also brought forth the necessity of overcoming the grave and precarious situation we are faced with. A national disaster plan has still not been made for reconstruction. The effects of this tragedy is not confined only to the tsunami affected areas but the entire country. It is in this context that a good system of accounting should be installed which would provide independent audit and performance related investment returns. The office of the Auditor General would be the ideal institution to carry out this task. This office could co-ordinate the process and the Auditor General should report to Parliament not annually, but monthly, since this tragedy warrants minimum delay, so that various authorities could take immediate action to execute the tasks assigned to it.
1. A statement of pledges given by foreign donors should be issued by the government on a monthly basis.
2. A statement of promises should also be issued. They do not amount to a pledge but a statement would enable the government to pursue it to result in actual donation.
3. All pledges and aid actually received should be made only to the government and not to individuals or private organisations or NGOs.
4. The statements issued by the government would enable the public to be aware of the situation in donor aid.

Donations would be in the following form:
(a) Cash in dollars or rupees or any other currency.
(b) Equipment.
(c) Other Projects.
(d) Duration of utilisation should be indicated. If the utilisation period lapses, the country looses the pledged balance aid.
There are several ways where the monies are received from foreign governments.
1. Government to government donations with the time frame for utilisation -
(a) Cash,
(b) Equipment,
(c) Other Projects,
(d) Consultancy and other services like medical, construction. Surveying Earley Warning Systems etc. A cost benefit analysis should be made.
2. Foreign Government aid to NGOs - directly should be banned.
3. Foreign Government aid to other organisations - directly should be banned.
4. Foreign Government aid to Individuals - directly should be banned.
5. A statement of unutilised balance.
A monthly statement should be issued by the Central Bank with details of;
(a) The names of the Donors,
(b) The amount and the currency,
(c) Duration of the loan or outright grants,
(d) Briefly the conditions attached to these loans or outright grants,
(e) A statement should be submitted to the Auditor General,
(f) The Auditor General should examine these Statements and issue his and observations and recommendations on a monthly basis. As the time frame for these statements together with the observations and recommendations should be strictly adhered to. Parliament should immediately take up and discuss these issues.
Receipt of foreign aid
The receipts of aid would be through the external Resources Division of the Ministry of Finance. Financial transactions should also be monitored.
The disbursement of Funds should be by the Treasury in the manner outlined below -
Central Bank
Secretaries to Ministry
District Secretaries
Pradeshiya Sabha
In the disbursement of funds the proper paying authority should be indicated. The paying authority should have no authority in the allocation of funds. This should be made by (a) Secretary to Ministry (b) Departmental Heads.
Full detailed lists of projects indicating the amount, value, duration and location should be indicated.
Pradeshiya Sabha as an example five schools in the Pradeshiya Sabha.
As for cash given directly to tsunami victims, properly documented payments should be identified and a monthly list of recipients, giving date, name, address and amount with the recipients' signature and I.D. card No. and the recipients' photograph attached and provided.
A file should be opened for each of these recipients. This would avoid dummy payments to a great extent, loopholes for false and dishonest disbursement would be eliminated. As witnesses to these payments such as gramasevakas and other responsible officials should countersign these payments.
Local donors
This would be in the form of cash, construction of houses and provision of services and NGOs contributions. The government should monitor these contributions and a monthly statement should be issued by the government giving details of the Projects undertaken by the local donors. The newspapers should give information where housing projects are to be carried out by these firms and cash contributions.
Cash disbursed by the Private Sector and NGOs should be listed and this information should be brought to the notice of the government among other things, for security reasons.
More than 50 years have passed since independence. The progress made is unsatisfactory. There is unbridled corruption and anti-social elements continue to dominate in every field and aspect of the socio economic system. The leadership and the administrative machinery has lost sight of serving the people, and they only serve themselves. The few who are selfless are either sidelined or completely eliminated.
There is no transparency in the present set up. This corruption has eaten into the very fabric of society. The administration from the top to the lower ranks are corrupt. Consequently the politicians have only compounded the situation. The well creased sartorial elegance of the politician only shows the purity of his attire and not the man. The political and administrative set up should be purged of these elements. It is very necessary that special legislation be introduced for social and economic crimes, and the system of justice should include extremely deterrent punishment with life imprisonment, to say the least.
Every system designed for the proper recording and accuracy will be destroyed if the administrative, financial and political leadership is corrupt. I feel that the leadership should have an iron determination, ruthless efficiency with the noble vision of Lenin and the sublime compassion and the timeless message of the Buddha.

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