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Oxfam Tsunami Emergency Appeal: Situation Update

Situation Update
For Immediate Release: 14 January 2005

Oxfam Tsunami Emergency Appeal: Situation Update

Sri Lanka

Oxfam is working from five field offices in the North, East and South of the country. The scale of the disaster in so many regions has meant that most of our longer term development work has been suspended in order to deal with peoples’ emergency needs.

In the east, the clean-up operation in the worst-affected areas is still slow. Oxfam has just finished constructing the latrines and water supply systems in 9 camps around Batticaloa, and are extending our operations southwards into 2 camps in Ampara district, setting up 2,000-litre tanks for clean water. While many people remain in the camps, those that have only partially damaged houses are starting to return home. Oxfam New Zealand Water Programme Manager, Kate Medlicott is working with the Oxfam team in this area.

In Trincomalee we have done a survey of damage to the existing water distribution network, while distributing hygiene items with the help of three local organisations.

In the north, the team is working on preparing sites for displaced people to move to while their permanent homes are rebuilt. Currently many are camping in schools which are needed for the start of the school term; others have been staying with friends or relatives, but this can put great strain on communities and people are being encouraged to move to these temporary camps. They are expected to need to stay there for 6-9 months before being able to return to their homes. Oxfam is providing the water to most of the identified sites, and the teams have already begun well-digging.

Oxfam has sent extra staff to the south of the country, who are setting up a programme of public health activities in camps. 5,000 hygiene kits are being sent to the south today for immediate distribution. This also includes special baby kits which contain nappies, baby soap, cups, spoons, cleaning sponges and baby mosquito nets.


Oxfam in India has established operations in five of the worst affected districts in mainland India, three in the state of Tamil Nadu (Cuddalore, Nagappattinam, Kannyakumari), Kollam district in Kerala, and Karaikal in the Union Territory of Pondicherry. In addition, we are undertaking relief work in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands; an assessment team is on the ground to establish further access to the Nicobar Islands and also to understand the needs there.

Up to INR 500 million has been set aside to spend on Oxfam response over 12 months; this programme is expected to reach approximately 300,000 men, women and children. Oxfam works in partnership with local NGO groups.

Our operations have begun by organizing the most overcrowded relief camps with the complete registration of people to ensure our distributions are equitable and efficient. We have provided water and sanitation (both new structures and technical advice to the local authorities), revived water sources, provided plastic sheeting to allow women to bathe in privacy; distributed undergarments and sanitary napkins/cloths to women and family hygiene kits consisting of (soap, comb, coconut oil, sanitary napkins, buckets and mugs). Our hygiene kits have already reached some 21,000 people across the affected areas.

In Cuddalore we are providing non-food emergency items to those who have lost everything; this consists of sleeping mats, footwear, shopping bags and storage boxes. We are providing ‘Cash for Work’ in the villages to support clean-up operations.

Volunteers have been mobilized to support the clear up and distribution efforts; In Kannyakumari we are working with Care, Caritas (Switzerland) and NIMHANS and other local groups to train volunteers in psychosocial counselling – 50 people have been trained in the first batch.

Work is now shifting from the relief phase to longer-term rehabilitation. We are involved in the construction of various types of temporary shelters. In Kannyakumari we are committed to providing temporary shelters for nearly 2,000 families together with water and sanitation for them; this will support 9,380 people. Oxfam is working with the local Government to plan further activities.

In Kollam we are working in collaboration with the Government to provide temporary shelters and domestic kits to 3,300 families (a special pack for women, chairs, a folding bed and basic cooking utensils). We are also working closely with the Government here as well as in Kannyakumari to try to attain Sphere minimum standards.

In Cuddalore, 243 thatch-roof huts are being constructed as temporary shelters for 1,215 people, with permission being sought to work in more villages. In neighbouring Nagappatinam, Oxfam is constructing 700 temporary shelters for 3,500 people. Our planned temporary shelters to date will reach approximately 30,000 people in these four affected areas.

In Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Oxfam is responding to the relief needs in the Port Blair camps working in collaboration with local groups. We are reaching out to 300 families from Car Nicobar in the Nicobarese camps in Port Blair. Oxfam is trying to expand our operations in the Hut Bay Islands with support proposed for 665 households. We are also continuing distribution of relief materials to the village camps and 6 villages in South Andaman.

Detailed long-term plans are being developed by teams in each of the areas of operation.


Oxfam has an operational base in Banda Aceh, with a logistics base in Medan.

We are now supplying clean water to 15,000 people in 21 camps in Aceh – this capacity is increasing daily. Other immediate response activities involve distributing jerry cans, digging latrines, and cleaning up solid waste which is a risk to public health. Oxfam staff have been seconded to the Ministry of Public Works to work on designing new relocation sites.

A small team has established a base in Meulaboh down the west coast, looking at rehabilitating water sources and general clean-up activities. The team is led by two Kiwi engineers, Les Collins and Dave Neru, seconded to Oxfam by the New Zealand Water and Waste Association.

Some of our local staff have been taken off longer term development work to travel to Aceh to increase our work with local organisations in the area. Partners’ knowledge of the area and people is vital to helping Oxfam understand how best to support people in rebuilding their livelihoods and revitalising the local economy.

For our latest updates, and stories from the field visit our website:


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