2 October 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka - The second phase of the Indian Housing Project, which will provide houses for 43,000 families displaced by 30 years of conflict and who have now returned home to the affected areas in Sri Lanka, was officially launched with the signing of an agreement between selected recipients of aid and the organizations leading the project. Launch events took place in the northern districts of Mannar, Mullativu and Jaffna.
The main event in Jaffna was attended by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Development, Basil Rajapakse, and the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Ashok Kantha.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is an implementing partner for this project and will be managing the construction or repair of 16,800 houses.
“Approximately 1,500 beneficiaries were selected to receive cash assistance from the Government of India under this project in the first lot. Funds for the first instalment of 100,000 Sri Lankan rupees (727 Swiss francs) have already been transferred into the bank accounts of beneficiaries and construction work on the ground will begin soon,” Ashok Kantha said.
The second phase of the Indian Housing Project adopts an owner-driven methodology, under which owner-beneficiaries are involved in the process of construction. A cash grant of LKR 550,000 (Approximately 4,000 Swiss Francs) is being provided for construction of a new house in instalments linked to progress in construction.
“These houses are being built in partnership with the recipients,” Jagath Abeysinghe, President of Sri Lanka Red Cross Society said. “The project is implemented with an owner-driven approach which requires beneficiaries to be involved in and make decisions on all aspects of rebuilding their own homes, with the Red Cross providing technical assistance and support. This has proven to be a very successful method.”
The organization, under its post conflict recovery programme, has already supported the construction of 3,000 houses for the returnees. The programme seeks to address the complex needs of the people returning home after years of displacement – shelter, livelihoods, water and sanitation, health and care.
“Our approach has always been holistic. We do not disappear after simply constructing a house. We help families to restart a livelihood, which would eventually help them to regain control of their lives,” said Bob McKerrow, the IFRC Head of Delegation in Sri Lanka.
Meeting the prevalent humanitarian needs in the northern region of Sri Lanka is an on-going challenge for the Sri Lankan government and the humanitarian community. The IFRC launched a new appeal to raise additional funds to expand the Red Cross’ assistance and continue supporting vulnerable returnee families as needs remain enormous.
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