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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
USAID/DART SITREP #25 - Ampara District


1. From May 17 - 20, the USAID/OFDA Shelter
Specialist, USAID/Disaster Assistance Response
Team (DART) Information Officer (IO), and
USAID/Colombo Project Management Assistant
traveled to Ampara District to monitor USAID/OFDA-
funded programs and visit tsunami-affected areas.
The USAID team met with representatives from
Christian Children's Fund (CCF), Mercy Corps,
REVIVE-SEEDS, and Shelter for Life (SFL) during
this field visit to Ampara District. Progress
continues steadily but greater attention to
livelihood restoration as both a psychological and
economic concern is required. End summary

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Psychological and Social Support - CCF

2. In Kalmunai town in Ampara District, the USAID
team visited three CCF psychological and social
support project sites on May 18. In addition, the
USAID team met with the CCF Child Protection
Advisor for eastern Sri Lanka. USAID/OFDA
provided a total of $2,310,294 to CCF for cash-
for-work and psychological and social support
activities in Ampara, Galle, Hambantota, Matara
and Trincomalee Districts.

3. CCF's psychological and social support
activities consist of Child Centered Spaces (CCS)
and Child Well-being Committees (CWBC). The CWBCs
are made up of two children, four teenagers, and
four adults from the tsunami-affected community.
The CWBCs select four volunteers from the
community and these volunteers operate the CCSs
and receive a small stipend. The CCSs have their
own structure in the community and the volunteers
lead activities twice a day for four hours each,
as well as provide snacks. The program also
includes hygiene promotion with a latrine cleaning
and handwashing campaign. The volunteers receive
training from CCF on issues such as problem
identification, communication, stress, and working
with children. The volunteers recruit additional
teachers from the community to teach music,
dancing, drawing, and other activities. In
addition, CCF employs members of the community
through cash-for-work activities.

4. The first site was a Muslim community that had
moved three months earlier from tents on the
grounds of a mosque into transitional shelters.
98 families live in 54 rooms, built barracks
style, five in a row.

5. The second site was a Hindu Tamil community,
also in Kalmunai. This community had been staying
in tents on the grounds of a Hindu temple and had
just recently moved to transitional shelters
nearby. (Note: CCF establishes CCSs in tent camps
and then moves them to the transitional shelter
settlements.) 60 children each attend the
morning and afternoon sessions. The volunteers
and CWBC noted that although World Vision fills
the water tank daily, there was still a shortage
of water in the community and that residents were
asking neighbors for water in the meantime.

6. The third site was a Christian Tamil community
of 29 families, in Panthiruppu Thiawpathi Amman
Kovil (Temple) Tamil Division in Kalmunai. Their
church provided the land for transitional
shelters. These families were moved from Nilavani
and Manatchinai approximately five kilometers
away. They were relocated on May 9. 55 children
attend the morning and afternoon sessions, ages
ranging from 2 - 12 years. There are also
community programs for teenagers. For example, on
the day of the USAID team's visit, the youth group
(25 members) had just finished cleaning land for a
play area.

7. According to the CCF staff and volunteers, the
key challenges for the children's psychological
and social support program are a lack of equipment
and space. Many of the toys and sports equipment
have been broken or lost and CCF is working to
replace them. Space to play sports was sorely
lacking. For example, in the Muslim community,
children were playing cricket in the only free
space available - approximately three by five
meters. In addition, the CCF volunteers and CWBC
emphasized a need for more cash-for-work
opportunities and micro-finance loans in order to
restart livelihoods. One CCF staff member noted
that although the immediate trauma of the tsunami
has subsided, some families have had more serious
problems such as alcohol abuse, abandonment of
children and, in one case, suicide.

8. At each site, the CCF volunteers and CWBC
members were clearly proud of their role as
community leaders. The CWBCs discussed concerns
about livelihoods rehabilitation, micro-finance,
health, hygiene, water and sanitation for the
entire community - not just children and explained
the role they have taken on as advocates for the

--------------------------------------------- -----
Livelihoods, Water/Sanitation, and Shelters -
Mercy Corps
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. On May 19, the USAID team met with Mercy
Corps' staff in Ampara and visited projects in
Thirukkovil, Komari, Pottuvil, and Akkaraipattu.
USAID/OFDA provided $1,509,447 million to Mercy
Corps for cash-for-work, livelihoods, and
community rehabilitation projects in Ampara,
Batticaloa, Hambantota, Matara, and Trincomalee
Districts. Mercy Corps began operating in Sri
Lanka prior to the tsunami in November 2004.

10. The Mercy Corps Ampara District Director
explained that a focus of Mercy Corps projects is
capacity building of local partners. Mercy Corps
holds proposal writing and project design
workshops for local organizations and requires
that partners submit grant proposals before any
funding is disbursed.

11. The USAID team visited a Mercy Corps
riverbank clean up project of the Konawatha River
in Addalaichenai. Mercy Corps conducted the
project through a new local partner Social,
Economic, Educational, and Cultural Organization
(SEECO). This project illustrated Mercy Corps'
capacity building approach with local partners.
Mercy Corps worked with SEECO to develop a project
proposal to clean a riverbank which had become
dirty with refuse and debris from the tsunami.
The project employed twenty people for five days
through cash-for-work. SEECO's activity was very
successful with the group cleaning 1.2 km of river
bank instead of the planned 1 km. Moreover, SEECO
returned 1,050 rupees (approximately $10) in
unused funds to Mercy Corps following the project.
In addition, SEECO is conducting an awareness
campaign in the neighborhood to encourage people
not to place their garbage in the river or on the
riverbank. SEECO is currently exploring
additional project opportunities with Mercy Corps.

12. In Thirukovil, the USAID team visited
latrines that Mercy Corps is building in
partnership with IOM transitional shelter
construction. Mercy Corps plans to construct 900
toilets for transitional shelters in Thirukkovil
and Ullai and 175 permanent toilets in Pottuvil.
The latrines are pour flush latrines with soak
away pits. The water table is high in the area so
Mercy Corps is compensating by keeping a
sufficiently far distance between the soak pit and
the family well. The Mercy Corps Water and
Sanitation Engineer explained that although many
families complain about water shortages, he
believed that the water supply is sufficient in
Thirukovil (Oxfam supplies 60 liters of water per
person per day and the Sphere guideline for water
is 15 liters) but a campaign is needed to
encourage people to be more careful with their
water usage.

13. In Komari, the USAID team visited a large
transitional shelter settlement where Mercy Corps
plans to construct 100 transitional shelters.
Various organizations have constructed shelters of
vastly varying quality at this site, which is
three miles from Komari town. The Mercy Corps
shelters are 200 square feet and cost
approximately $500-550. The shelters have palm
roofs and wooden walls. (Comment: The GOSL
Transitional Accommodation Program (TAP) has set a
standard shelter material cost of $400 per
shelter. Competition for beneficiaries has placed
pressure on NGOs to increase the amount spent on
each shelter although these increases further
exacerbate competition. USAID/OFDA is monitoring
these cost increases and encourages partners not
to participate in competitive shelter pricing) End

14. In Pottuvil, the USAID team met with one of
the beneficiaries of the Mercy Corps poultry
livelihoods renewal program. Mercy Corps is
working through a neighborhood poultry association
that existed prior to the tsunami to renew and
improve residents' poultry stock and repair or
rebuild chicken coops. In the first phase,
beneficiaries receive 100 chicks and then in the
second phase, those beneficiaries give ten of the
adult chickens to another beneficiary.
Beneficiaries also receive training on poultry
care and marketing, as well as veterinary
services. The beneficiary told the USAID team
that he had 500 chickens prior to the tsunami and
believes that he will have 500 chickens again in a
year. The chickens are provided to the
beneficiaries in stages so that adult chickens do
not reach the market all at once. The
beneficiary noted that the expected profit for
each chick is approximately $2.

Transitional Shelter - Shelter for Life

15. The USAID team met with the Director of
Shelter for Life (SFL) in Ampara to discuss
transitional shelter in Ampara District.
USAID/OFDA provided $1,026,185 to SFL for the
construction of transitional shelters in
Trincomalee and Ampara Districts. Originally SFL
planned to construct shelters in Trincomalee
District only but expanded to Ampara District
after not receiving sufficient beneficiaries in
Trincomalee. SFL plans to construct approximately
350 shelters in Kalmunai and Pittukovil. SFL
noted that although the GOSL has set a cost
guideline of 40,000 rupees ($400), most of the
shelters being constructed in Ampara District cost
45-60,000 rupees. The SFL director noted that the
key challenge in Ampara District has been getting
accurate information on assessments and
beneficiaries from the local government. For
example, at one shelter meeting, the GOSL said
that there were either 28 or 50 tent camps in
Ampara District. (Note: According to SFL, there
are 25 tent camps.) As a result, when
organizations receive their list of beneficiaries
from the government, they must check the
information and frequently reassess the numbers
and situation. In addition, local officials have
given the same lists of beneficiaries to different

--------------------------------------------- -----
Micro-finance and livelihoods restoration - REVIVE
--------------------------------------------- -----

16. USAID/OFDA provided $10,091,159 million to
Nathan's Associates to establish REVIVE, a
livelihood restoration project. REVIVE plans to
focus on 29,000 families who lost livelihoods,
emphasizing tourism, small coastal retailers,
small-medium businesses, and women's cooperatives.
On May 26, USAID staff met with REVIVE to discuss
progress to date. REVIVE has established
partnerships with the Tourism Cluster (cash-for-
work), Arthacharya Foundation, Sewalanka, SEEDS,
Women Development Federation, The Spice Council,
and the Federation of Chamber of Commerce. REVIVE
staff explained that the majority of cash-for-work
activities have ended and current and future
projects will focus on microlending, grants, and
capacity building. According to REVIVE, the main
challenges to date have been logistical, such as
the hiring of staff and finding facilities and
appropriate local partners. In addition, REVIVE
staff noted that local partners are hesitant to
work with new clients and would prefer to provide
loans to tsunami affected persons that they had
worked with prior to the tsunami.

17. The USAID team met with REVIVE's local
partner SEEDS in Ampara District on May 20. The
local project director explained that they had
received 15 million rupees ($150,000) in USAID
funding for REVIVE that they would use for 150
loans charging 6 percent interest. (Note:
Commercial banks are charging 20-25 percent
interest.) According to REVIVE project staff,
REVIVE will provide 75 million rupees ($750,000)
for loans in six districts starting June 15.


18. Psychological and social support and
livelihoods rehabilitation are emerging as the key
concerns for affected communities and the
organizations supporting them. While transitional
and permanent shelter remains foremost for most
beneficiaries, it is clear that once people
receive housing, whether transitional or
permanent, their focus turns to the means to
restore their livelihoods. At every site visited
by the USAID team, beneficiaries mentioned
livelihoods as their main concern. At the May 10
psychological and social support coordination
meeting in Colombo, participants agreed that
livelihoods and psychological and support
activities are closely linked because people need
employment in order to feel satisfied.
Participants agreed that livelihoods programming
is essential to involving men in psychological and
support programs - a challenge to date. Although
USAID/OFDA partners continue to make steady
progress despite logistical and programmatic
challenges, greater coordination between
organizations and increased attention to longer-
term concerns, such as livelihoods, are needed.


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