Red Cross Movement commits tsunami-housing partnership with UN HABITAT

[TamilNet, Monday, 20 March 2006, 19:07 GMT]
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed during the weekend between the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) and UN HABITAT, marking the beginning of a collaboration that will help thousands of tsunami affected families to rebuild their homes, said a press release issued by the SLRCS.

Following is the press release:

"This new partnership comprises part of the 'Community Recovery and Reconstruction Partnership' ("the Partnership"), a new initiative that will significantly increase the Red Cross Red Crescent Movements contribution towards the post tsunami reconstruction effort. Under the Partnership the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement hopes to commit up to US$ 31 million in a 'Top Up' grant initiative that will provide matching funds to grants that have been disbursed to individual families under the government's existing Owner Driven Housing Programme (ODHP).

"The Partnership between the Red Cross Red Crescent and UN-HABITAT will deliver a comprehensive package of support to families and communities in a people-centered approach to the rebuilding process.

"At the community level, UN HABITAT and the Sri Lanka Red Cross will play a key role that will involve the formation of Community Development Councils (CDCs) that will empower families to collectively decide on the overall development of their community. Local government as the body that works in the interest of each community will recognize the CDCs. They will assist in areas such as the bulk purchase of construction materials and will also organize families into mutual self-help groups to support each other during the construction process, giving special attention to female-headed households.

"The Partnership between the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society and UN HABITAT will give people a much greater sense of ownership over the process of re-building not just their homes, but their communities", explains Tony Maryon, Head of Delegation for the Federation in Sri Lanka.

"A network of community housing mobilizers will provide technical advice to families on design, quality and cost of materials. Funding will also be allocated to be used at the discretion of the CDCs on commonly agreed projects that restore community assets such as community centers or children's recreation areas.

"UN HABITAT has solid relations with local and district government and together - with the grass roots presence that the Red Cross has in every district across the country, there is scope to build much stronger links between affected communities and the local authorities", says HABITAT

"According to government estimates, 15000 families could now opt to return to reconstruct their original homes following the changes made to the buffer zone in December 2005. In a MoU with the Government and the International Development Association (IDA a member of the World Bank) the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement has pledged to support the majority of these returning families by funding Phase 2 of the government's Owner Driven Housing Programme (ODHP). Under this programme, families whose homes were totally destroyed will receive a cash grant of 250,000 Rupees (US$ 2,500) in four installments linked to different phases of the construction process. For partially destroyed homes families will receive 100,000 Rupees (US$ 1000).

"The Partnership will not only enable us to fast track our construction efforts. The alliance that has been created will allow the Red Cross to identify and address the outstanding needs of marginalized families who may have been overlooked and do not currently qualify for inclusion in the ODHP", says Mr.Jagath Abeysinghe, President of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society.

"In Sri Lanka, the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement is a significant contributor to the tsunami recovery effort. This new commitment to the effort to construct permanent houses is in addition to an original pledge made by the Movement in February 2005 - to build up to 15,000 new homes. So far, 8348 houses are either planned or are under construction."


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