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Oxfam Tsunami Emergency Appeal: Situation Update

Situation Update
For Immediate Release: 18 January 2005

Oxfam Tsunami Emergency Appeal: Situation Update

• Oxfam’s distribution of hygiene kits and supplying of water and sanitation facilities and temporary shelter continues steadily across affected areas of India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
• Longer term livelihoods strategies and alternative sources of income are being developed in several areas.
• Oxfam distributes food to ‘forgotten communities’ of secondary fishing industry workers in India; ice makers, net menders, fish driers, packers, transporters etc who were not eligible for government compensation as they were not directly hit.
• Indonesian government confirms NGOs will not be expelled at end of March.
• Oxfam identifies new areas of need where it will work on North East coast of Indonesia.
• Andaman islander rescued by python!

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.
Amongst the wider overall emergency response work in Sri Lanka, some of the most recent items Oxfam has delivered include non-food items (buckets, plastic sheeting etc) to 720 families in Batticloa and to 335 families in Trincomalee. A water and sanitation assessment team went out to Vaharai on the 15th of January. In the north, relocation sites are being cleared and latrine construction will commence later this week. Oxfam New Zealand Water Programme Manager, Kate Medlicott is working with the Oxfam team in this area together with Richard Weaver, a water engineer seconded from the consultancy, Maunsell.
In the South, Oxfam’s coordinating engineer is meeting with local authorities to discuss the construction of 102 temporary shelters in part of the Hambantota district. Packing and preparing of 2,300 family kits by the NGO forum is underway for distribution next week. 260 hygiene packs and 3500 buckets have been distributed in another part of the Hambantota district.

Oxfam GB in India has established operations in 5 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. The number of people returning to their homes from relief camps in rising, but survivors with nowhere to return to are staying in camps until they receive compensation.
In Cuddalore, 6,399 hygiene kits have been distributed so far, and 105 temporary shelters with thatched roofs and tarpaulin flooring have been constructed. Some people have already moved in and received household items such as stoves. Oxfam distributed sugar cane so families could celebrate the important local festival of Pongal on the 14th. The team is developing a strategy for longer term livelihoods in the district.
In Nagapattinam this week, Oxfam has distributed food to 72 families from the ‘forgotten community’ of people who normally earn their livelihoods by supporting the now shattered fishing industry; ie fish driers, packers and transporters, ice makers, net repairers and so on. If they were not directly hit by the tsunami they were not eligible for full government aid.
The fishing community itself has agreed that no-one will start fishing until everybody who lost their boats has had them replaced so that no-one is at an unfair advantage. They are surviving in the meantime on government compensation money. Oxfam has started discussing the idea of diversifying their means of generating income, but this will be challenging given that they have relied on fishing for countless generations.
Farmers will be affected too as a government survey has confirmed that the salinity of the soil has been affected.
In Kannyakumari local authorities are inviting NGOs to put in ‘tenders’ for house repairs – those with the lowest estimates of repair costs will be allocated responsibility for the work. They have allocated water and sanitation work for people living in 658 temporary shelters to Oxfam. Oxfam has completed bathroom complexes in 6 neighbourhoods and conducted a livelihoods assessment in 6 villages.
In Karaikal 3,890 hygiene kits have been distributed across 26 villages to date and a further 1,100 are planned for distribution in the next few days. Oxfam is also providing water and sanitation facilities.

Andaman Islands
In South Andaman discussions are underway for the construction of about 19 temporary latrine units and washing places in 9 different locations and safe ways of disposing of sanitary napkins are being considered. In Hut Bay, Little Andamans, Oxfam is supporting 665 families through a local youth group and in the Nancowrie group of islands, we plan to support 1,500 households in 9 camps with bicycles and sewing machines, fabrics, garments and thread.
The team was told about a man from Kondul village in Greater Nicobar island who grabbed on to what he thought was a tree as he was swept out to sea. When the water receded and he realised he was clinging to a python which had attached itself to the tree – he ran!

Oxfam has an operational base in Banda Aceh, with a logistics base in Medan. We also have a programme base in Meulaboh and plan to have 2 bases in other locations on the East and West coast. We are working with local organisations where possible – for example with Jakarta University to survey the number and location of displaced people, information which Oxfam is sharing with the UN.
The Indonesian government confirmed yesterday that international troops and aid workers involved in the tsunami relief effort in Aceh would not have to leave the province by the end of March. After meeting America's deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, the defence minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said the date was now a target for Indonesian officials to take over most of the work and not a deadline for foreigners' expulsion.
Oxfam has completed a 2-day survey with the Public Works Department along the North East Coast and identified evident needs that we could address.
In Banda Aceh and Aceh Bazar we are still supplying 23,000 people with water, planned to rise to 50,000 (in Aceh and Meulaboh) by next week. Enough latrines have been built for close to 10,000 people. Jerry cans, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits have been distributed to about 12,000 people.
The team in Meulaboh on the west coast is being strengthened with finance, logistics, food security experts and a programme manager. The team is currently led by two Kiwi engineers, Les Collins and Dave Neru, seconded to Oxfam from by the New Zealand Water and Waste Association. Four tons of water and sanitation equipment has been delivered by Oxfam’s helicopter and is now being installed. Water storage and distribution facilities have been set up for 2,000 people and 40 latrines have been completed.

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