Reconstruction of 3,000 houses damaged in North under way
A partnership between the European Union, the Australian Government,
the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the United
Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat), is supporting the
reconstruction and repair of over 4,600 conflict damaged houses in Sri
Lanka's Northern Province.
The current housing recovery project, with an investment of US$ 23
Million (SLR. 2.5 Billion) is primarily funded by the European Union
(SLR. 1.8 Billion) with significant co-funding from the Australian
Government and SDC. UN-Habitat and SDC are jointly implementing the
project by providing technical support to home owners.
Raskruban Yogamalar, a project beneficiary from Kanagrayankulam
District Secretariat Division in the Vavuniya district said "We are
extremely happy to be part of this housing project and really appreciate
the support from these foreign donors. Since we had the freedom to build
our own house, we used good quality materials and selected a house plan
of our choice.
My family was closely involved in the construction process. We
provided our own labour towards the foundation work. We have also
manufactured our own concrete blocks.
Our ultimate aim was to build a secure home where my family can live
peacefully. We hope this initiative will continue to help conflict
affected people who need assistance with permanent housing".
Yogamalar's house is now complete and the family is looking forward
to moving in to their new home soon.
Commencing in January 2011, the "Support to Conflict Affected People
through Housing" Project has to-date assisted over 3,000 IDP families in
their reconstruction and repair efforts in the districts of Vavuniya,
Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Mannar. Approximately 4,600 families from 60
villages will be supported through this permanent housing initiative
over a period of two and a half years.
It is estimated that more than 16,000 people will benefit directly
through this European Union, Australian Government and SDC funded
project. There is also a strong focus on provision of construction
skills training for 100 youths in the affected villages, with plans to
increase to 300, thereby enhancing livelihood opportunities and
supporting the re-establishment of the local economy.
The Government of Sri Lanka is supporting this initiative through the
identification of priority community needs in the project locations.
Over a period spanning three decades, Sri Lanka experienced a civil
war that affected the lives and destroyed the assets of hundreds of
thousands of civilians.
According to estimates, when the conflict ended in May 2009, over
160,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed and over 300,000 people
Recognising the urgent need to facilitate the dignified return of
displaced families, UN-Habitat initiated several permanent housing
projects in partnership with funding partners and this European Union,
Australian Government and SDC support has proved critically important.
Using a 'home owner driven' approach, this project is currently
assisting families to actively take charge of their own recovery.
The families are responsible for the planning, implementation and
monitoring of their own progress, while vital technical assistance
including house plan designs, selection of skilled labour for
construction, purchase of good quality building materials and support in
solving land tenure issues is provided by UN-Habitat and SDC.
The families selected under this EU/AusAID/SDC/UN-Habitat initiative
are contributing their own labour towards the reconstruction effort.
Building materials are being procured locally, whenever possible,
which is helping to revive local economies in the project locations.
Communities are also being assisted to manufacture their own building
materials, such as concrete blocks, through the provision of block
making moulds and training by the field technical teams.
To-date, 1,084 vulnerable families have been assisted to undertake
major repairs to their houses, while 1,988 families are receiving
support to completely rebuild their houses. This includes 100 families
in Vavuniya, 1,264 families in Mullaitivu, and 1,708 families in
The activities in Mannar district are scheduled to commence in early
2012. Vulnerable families such as female-headed households, elderly home
owners and families with disabled family members are given special
attention and support by the technical field teams. The role of women is
heavily promoted in all aspects of the project and particularly in
decision making and financial control where women account for 40% of
those in leadership roles.
Another key feature of the project is the support provided by Village
Rehabilitation Committees (VRCs) towards monitoring the project progress
and assistance to vulnerable families.
This includes bulk purchase of building materials through community
bargaining and advice and assistance in construction activities.
This unique partnership between the EU, AusAID, SDC and UN-Habitat is
helping thousands of families in the North to fulfill their needs and
expectations whilst ensuring a sense of ownership through a fully
participatory process with the people.
It is also an excellent example of coordination and strategic
thinking and aid effectiveness between donors. This housing initiative
will further enhance the resettlement efforts of the Government of Sri
Lanka in the Northern Province.