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Cablegate: Sri Lanka - Earthquake and Tsunamis:

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. From April 5 to April 7, the USAID/Disaster
Assistance Response Team (DART) Information Officer
(IO) and a USAID/Colombo Foreign Service National
(FSN) assisting the USAID/DART visited USAID/Office
of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
implementing partners in Galle and Matara in
southern Sri Lanka. The team visited the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies (IFRC), the U.N. Children's Fund
(UNICEF), the International Organization for
Migration (IOM), Save the Children-United Kingdom
(SC-UK), GOAL, Community Habitat Finance (CHF), and
Christian Children's Fund (CCF) to discuss
USAID/OFDA-funded programs including emergency
relief supplies, livelihoods, psychological and
social activities, and transitional shelter.

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IFRC's Programs in Galle

2. On April 5, the USAID/DART IO and USAID/Colombo
FSN met with USAID/OFDA implementing partner IFRC
in their warehouse in Galle which is the commodity
shipment point for their southern operations
(southern Sri Lanka to Hambantota). IFRC has four
warehouses that are located in Galle, Ratnapura
(Ratnapura District), Ampara District, and Colombo.
Most of IFRC's relief supplies arrive in Galle via
Colombo. Between January 5 and March 23, IFRC
distributed relief supplies, including blankets,
family tents, hygiene kits, 10 and 20 liter jerry
cans, kitchen sets, tarpaulins, bedsheets, sleeping
mats, saris, sarongs, mosquito nets, laundry soap,
baby kits, ropes, women's underwear, lamps, and
cookers and kerosene at 178 sites in Galle, Matara,
and Hambantota assisting 48,287 families or 208,170
persons. [Note: IFRC uses the figure of 4.31 for
family size. Exact totals of individual items
distributed are available if necessary, and these
figures only cover IFRC's activities in southern
Sri Lanka. End Note.]

3. IFRC continues to distribute USAID/OFDA-
provided hygiene kits, as well as those from other
donor countries, and baby kits monthly and will
continue these distributions for a few more months.
IFRC is also examining procuring additional hygiene
kits locally as needed. In June, IFRC will
reevaluate the needs based upon where internally
displaced persons (IDPs) are living.

4. IFRC conducted a focus group with affected
women regarding the hygiene kits and discovered
that feminine products, soaps, and combs were
extremely valuable; however, the individuals in the
focus group did not need as much toilet paper as
was provided in the hygiene kits. [Note:
USAID/OFDA's hygiene kits were one of the only
types of hygiene kits to provide combs. IFRC has
heard from several beneficiaries that the quote
blue-type razors end quote used in USAID/OFDA
hygiene kits, as well as those provided by other
donors, are not quite sharp enough. End Note.]
IFRC has phased out distributions of other items
such as jerry cans, plastic sheeting, and stoves.

5. While in Galle, the team observed an IFRC
distribution through the Sri Lankan Red Cross
(SLRC) in Thalaaramba in Matara District. During
this distribution, SLRC provided 450 families with
blankets, jerry cans, hygiene kits, four bars of
soap, and plastic mats. SLRC also registered all
beneficiaries and provided beneficiary cards.
During this visit, the USAID/DART IO spoke with the
SLRC District Coordinator for Matara who advised
the USAID/DART IO that he distributed USAID/OFDA
plastic sheeting to fisherman in Matara town. The
SLRC District Coordinator noted that the
marketplace in Matara was hard-hit by the tsunami,
and 95 percent of the people that died in Matara
were killed in the marketplace. As a result, many
lost their shops, and roofs on stalls were
destroyed in the marketplace. SLRC provided
USAID/OFDA plastic sheeting to many fishermen so
they could protect their stalls from the rain and
the sun and start selling fish in the marketplace
again. Additionally, fishermen are using the
plastic sheeting in their temporary homes and to
protect them from the sun as they attempt to repair
boats and equipment.

6. USAID/OFDA plastic sheeting is also being used
in schools to protect students from the seabreeze
and rain. The SLRC District Coordinator stated
that he greatly appreciated USAID's efforts in Sri
Lanka, and the fisherman were grateful and relayed
their thanks to USAID for the plastic sheeting.

IOM and Livelihoods

7. On April 6, the team attended the second
distribution of tools by USAID/OFDA implementing
partner IOM to tsunami-affected carpenters in
Matara District. The tsunami destroyed the tools
of many carpenters in Matara District, and those
tools that withstood the tsunami are now rusted.
The first distribution took place in March, and 16
carpenters received tools. During the second
distribution, IOM distributed tools to 43
additional carpenters. IOM stated that non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) that conduct
vocational training developed this standard tool
kit that included hand saws, an electric drill,
drill bits, chisels, hammers, measuring tape, an
angle grinder, a vise grip, as well as other items.
The total value of the kit was USD 150, and all
tools were procured in Colombo or in Matara

8. IOM identified tsunami-affected carpenters with
the assistance of the Southern Development
Authority (SDA) and then verified the names
provided by the SDA. The carpenters are all
skilled, and no additional training is necessary.
Since there is significant reconstruction work
taking place in Matara, with the aid of the tool
kit, the carpenters will be able to regain their
livelihoods. IOM also plans to implement a
livelihoods program with USAID/OFDA funding in
Kalutara. IOM stated that the NGOs at the
livelihoods sector meetings have identified
different sectors to assist, and IOM will assist
both carpenters and masons.

9. During this tool distribution, the team spoke
with KR Nandasena from Paramulla in Matara District
who has been living in a camp since the tsunami and
received a tool kit. Mr. Nandasena's home was
completely destroyed due to the tsunami, but his
family survived. Mr. Nandasena does not know when
he will receive a transitional shelter or land to
rebuild his home as his home was located within the
100-meter buffer zone. Mr. Nandasena learned of
the IOM tool distribution at the camp and
registered to become a beneficiary. Prior to the
tsunami, Mr. Nandasena had his own carpentry

business, and with the receipt of these tools, Mr.
Nandasena will restart his business at his sister's
house. Mr. Nandasena usually does carpentry work
with four men who also received tools, and now they
will all be able to work together to engage in
reconstruction work such as fixing boats, roofs,
and houses. Before he received this tool kit, Mr.
Nandasena had been borrowing tools from friends in
order to engage in carpentry work to support his
family. In conversations with the team, Mr.
Nandasena said that his life had been dark for a
few months after the tsunami, but now due to the
receipt of these tools, his life has been

10. In Matara District, with USAID/OFDA support,
IOM is also assisting women in six camps by
providing two sewing machines per camp as well as
cutting tables, materials, and thread. The team
visited sewing centers in two camps and met with
camp residents. The beneficiaries are consulted on
what type of materials they need, and this
USAID/OFDA-funded IOM program will assist women
with income generation. Workshops are held in the
camp to assist women in upgrading their sewing
skills and to teach those women who do not already
know how to sew. IOM is also identifying tailors
in the six camps.

11. A local organization, Nawimana Southern Rural
Development Fund, has also approached IOM with a
proposal to identify female sewers who have been
affected by the tsunami but who do not live in the
camps. IOM plans to provide sewing machines and
establish a sewing center on the grounds of a
temple. To date, IOM has identified 35 sewers, who
were established in the sewing business prior to
the tsunami, and will assist these sewers with
tools and machines in Matara District. Each sewer
will receive a manual machine, (cost USD 150) and
the women will also receive training in small
business management, marketing, and financial
management of small businesses so they may more
effectively market and sell their goods.

12. All IOM's beneficiaries receive information
sessions when they receive tools and machines etc.
to ensure that recipients understand that these
goods are to positively benefit their families'
incomes and should not be sold. IOM will conduct
informal follow-up interviews with all recipients
to ensure that recipients have used their tools,
machines, etc. appropriately.

13. Within the camps in Matara, IOM has created
camp care committees composed of camp residents,
and all committees are 50 percent men and 50
percent women. These committees speak on behalf of
all camp residents, and the members are trained by
IOM. IOM is also conducting surveys of residents
in six camps to identify the needs. Through these
surveys, IOM is identifying the source of income
for primary and secondary income earners and
prioritizing the most vulnerable individuals, to
include single-headed households (male or female),
and those widowed, divorced, separated, or who have
a spouse working elsewhere in the country. Other
people included in the vulnerable population are
the disabled, young adults, and the elderly. Based
upon the results of these surveys, IOM hopes to
assist the camp residents with training programs,
tools, and microfinance assistance.

SCF-UK's Psychological and Social Programs

14. On April 6, the team met with SCF-UK to
discuss psychological, social, and child protection
support in Matara District. To increase the
capacity of its volunteers to ensure they are able
to identify children with psychological problems
who need counseling, SCF-UK planned workshops for
its volunteers at 22 different centers.
Additionally, SCF-UK is providing child friendly
corners so children have play activities and can
better adapt in the aftermath of the tsunami. SCF-
UK plans different activities for different age
groups including Lego, puzzles, drawing, and
singing for children aged 6 to 11, and Scrabble,
Carom, reading, drawing, drama, general knowledge
quizzes, and group discussions on issues such as
health for those aged 11 to 19. SCF-UK's education
unit is focusing on starting pre-schools at camps
for children aged three to five years. The SCF-UK
representative advised the team that there is a
great need for emotional support for children in
tsunami-affected areas.


CCF's Programs in Matara District

15. On April 6, the team visited a USAID/OFDA-
funded CCF project in Polwathemodara in Matara
District that provides psychological and social
support through child-friendly spaces where games
and activities are designed to help tsunami-
affected children with emotional recovery. The
woman who runs the CCF project was also affected by
the tsunami, and her house was destroyed. This CCF
volunteer is currently conducting daily classes
from 1530 to 1730 hours in the transitional shelter
built for her by USAID/OFDA implementing partner
CHF. In these classes she teaches English, Math,
Dancing, and Music. The CCF volunteer stated that
the children still seem worried about the ocean and
continue to draw pictures of the tsunami. The CCF
program initially started with 20 children in a
temple, but has now increased in number.

--------------------------------------------- ------
GOAL's Transitional Shelter Program in Matara
--------------------------------------------- ------

16. On April 6, the team met with a GOAL
representative in Matara District to discuss GOAL's
USAID/OFDA-funded transitional shelter program.
The GOAL representative stated that the
organization initially did not intend to build
transitional shelters in Matara District as the
area was adequately covered by other NGOs; however,
many NGOs were unable to fulfill their previous
commitments, and GOAL started building shelters in
Matara District in March. GOAL currently plans to
build 100 shelters in Dickwella, but will
eventually complete approximately 200 shelters
total in Matara District. As of April 6, GOAL has
completed 68 transitional shelters in Matara

17. GOAL noted that the allocation of land for
transitional shelters is a significant problem (see
reftel), and the organization has encountered many
problems obtaining land from the Government of Sri
Lanka (GOSL). GOAL stated that after many
meetings, the GOSL finally provided land to GOAL on
April 1, but it is a site that is prone to flooding
and GOAL will have to build a drainage system. The
GOSL also offered GOAL another plot of land where
they could build four shelters; however, GOAL
rejected the land as it was a mass grave containing
46 bodies. The GOSL has also offered to sell land
to those NGOs that wish to purchase land, and GOAL
noted that the cheapest land available was USD
160,000 per acre.

18. The GOAL representative stated that the lack
of available land on which to build transitional
shelters is a significant problem, and GOAL is
currently going door-to-door in Matara District and
speaking to residents who have available land on
which they will allow GOAL to build transitional
shelters. GOAL is currently building transitional
shelters on these single sites, often in private
owners' gardens. In cases where GOAL has been
building on the land of private owners, GOAL
negotiates an agreement with the landowner so that
the landowner will own the transitional shelter
after the IDP leaves the landowner's property.

19. GOAL had hoped to build six to seven
transitional shelters per day; however due to the
recent bad weather and rains, GOAL has only managed
to build between three and four shelters a day in
Matara District. The GOAL representative noted
that if the GOSL provided plots of land, they would
be able to construct between 12 and 15 shelters a
day. The District Secretary advised GOAL that
approximately 1,000 families in Dickwella need
transitional shelter; however the GOAL
representative believes that between 150 and 200
families, and at most 300 families, actually need
shelter in this area.

20. The GOAL representative reported that since
USD 400 is now the limit for the cost of shelters,
after all transitional shelters have been
constructed, as a separate project (not with
USAID/OFDA funding), GOAL will revisit previously
constructed transitional shelters and install
kitchens and electrical wiring.

21. The team visited the location of the first
transitional shelter constructed by GOAL in Matara
District, as well as the location of the most
recently constructed transitional shelter that was
finished just hours before the team's visit.
Occupants of all shelters were extremely happy and
grateful to now have a place to live and were
satisfied with the quality of the shelters.

--------------------------------------------- ------
CHF's Transitional Shelter Program in Matara
--------------------------------------------- ------

22. On April 7, the team met with USAID/OFDA
implementing partner CHF to discuss CHF's
USAID/OFDA-funded transitional shelter program in
Matara District. CHF, like GOAL, noted that
allocation of land has been the main impediment to
building transitional shelters. CHF has been
identifying those individuals who still have land
and are located outside the 100-meter buffer zone
where transitional shelters can be built.
Approximately 80 percent of CHF's beneficiaries are
housed on their own land, outside the 100-meter
buffer zone. In general in Matara District, CHF
has been constructing shelters on residents' own
land, the land of relatives, and as a last resort,
like GOAL, CHF has also been negotiating private
plots with local land owners.
23. Currently CHF has 400 transitional shelters
under construction in Galle and Matara. The CHF
representative noted that initially CHF planned to
construct 3,000 transitional shelters; however, CHF
noted that in the days following the tsunami,
initial assessments over-estimated the number of
those residents who lost their homes, and the
actual number of residents who lost their homes has
dropped by 50 percent. In addition, since the
beginning of the relief response, the cost per
transitional shelter has also changed from USD 250
to USD 400. As a result, CHF is examining putting
plywood on the sides of its transitional shelters
instead of just plastic sheeting to upgrade the
shelters and provide additional security and
stability. CHF is currently committed to providing
2,000 shelters at USD 400 per unit in Galle and
24. CHF has identified 700 beneficiary families in
Galle and between 500 and 600 families in Matara
District. After all the initial transitional
shelters have been built, with the remaining
difference of 800 shelters (from 2,000 planned),
CHF plans to revisit those families who have
already received shelters at the lower cost and
upgrade them with the plywood. Additionally, CHF
will also revisit families with seven or more
members that previously only received one shelter,
and CHF will provide an additional transitional
shelter to these larger families. CHF will also
upgrade the shelters of other NGOs that constructed
shelters at the initial lower cost. As of April 7,
CHF has constructed 180 shelters in Galle, and 480
additional transitional shelters are under
construction in this area.

25. CHF has also been working with Project Galle,
an organization formed in the aftermath of the
tsunami by expatriate residents and new volunteers,

to engage in camp upgrades. Currently 65
volunteers and core staff reside in Sri Lanka and
have been assisting CHF with camp upgrades in 40
camps in Galle. CHF is providing the financial and
technical backing, and Project Galle is providing
the labor. Together, both organizations are
upgrading the living conditions of camps in Galle,
including clearing existing drainage systems,
digging new systems so that pools of stagnant water
will not develop, and providing temporary water
points and temporary latrines. The team visited a
camp and witnessed Project Galle volunteers digging
ditches and building drainage systems to prevent
flooding and upgrading other features at the camp.

26. The Italian-provided tents that are currently
located in camps in Galle cost USD 850, and since
they are more costly than the shelters CHF is
building (due to the USD 400 limit), those camp
residents located in these tents will not receive
additional transitional shelters. However, these
tents are designed for cold climates and have
little ventilation. Thus, using USAID/OFDA-
provided plastic sheeting, CHF and Project Galle
will install canopies above the tents to provide
shade from the sun and runoff of rain. The first
shade canopies will be delivered on April 11 at a
cost of USD 55. CHF is also working with local
communities to reposition the tents in these camps
up to six to eight inches above the ground to
prevent flooding during the monsoon season. CHF
will engage in camp upgrades in 20 camps with
approximately 900 families.
27. The team visited the site of CHF shelters in
Werallana in Hikkaduwa. At this location, CHF was
constructing eight transitional shelters on land
that was owned by a man whose house was also
destroyed. The man's house was located in the 100-
meter buffer zone, and CHF was also constructing a
shelter for him on this land that was located
beyond the 100-meter buffer zone. This man had
agreed to allow CHF to build these transitional
shelters on his land, and the shelters will benefit
35 people.
28. When building transitional shelters, CHF noted
that in cases where there are no able-bodied men in
the beneficiary family, CHF will build the entire
transitional shelter. However, if men are
available, CHF advises the beneficiaries that CHF
will provide the door, roof, and plastic sheeting
and the beneficiaries will be paid to do the
masonry, frames, and sand foundation work. In
cases where the beneficiaries are unable to do the
work, they may find someone else to be paid to
complete the work. CHF only pays 50 percent
initially to ensure that the work is completed.
29. Earlier in the week, the team spoke with some
beneficiaries who received transitional shelters
from CHF in Polathumodara in Matura District. The
team spoke to the father of a family of five who
had lost his 19 year old daughter due to the
tsunami. The man was a fisherman and was currently

unable to work as his boat was destroyed. His
family is living in a transitional shelter that may
or may not be within the 100-meter buffer zone (it
is within 100 meters of a river and the ocean is
slightly beyond the river). CHF had constructed a
transitional shelter on top of the foundation of
the man's house as it was the only part of his home
that was not destroyed. Since the house is located
in the area close to/or within the 100-meter buffer
zone, the GOSL will not provide the family with
money to rebuild their home until they find
appropriate land to relocate the family. The man
stated that his family would move immediately if
the GOSL could provide him a home elsewhere. Until
the GOSL makes a determination regarding his land
or finds appropriate land for the man to
reconstruct his home, he will not receive any
compensation for his damaged home and will not be
allowed to reconstruct his home on this land.


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