UN-HABITAT has initiated a rapid response aimed at helping the survivors of the tsunami to rebuild their lives.
Through the Indian Ocean Earthquake tsunami Flash Appeal, launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday, UN-HABITAT is focusing on immediate shelter and infrastructure reconstruction programmes in the affected areas. The Flash Appeal is a collaborative effort involving UN agencies, governments, non-governmental organizations and other partners interested in providing emergency relief to tsunami-affected areas.
The tsunami left in its wake devastating destruction stretching from Asia to the East Coast of Africa. The earthquake, measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale, struck on 26 December off the western coast of northern Sumatra causing overwhelming devastation in the Indian Ocean region. Over 150,000 people died and their homes and settlements were destroyed when the massive tidal waves swept into coastal villages and seaside resorts in the region, and as far as the east coast of Africa some 4,000 km away.
UN-HABITAT is collaborating with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva, which is coordinating the Flash Appeal, and has offered assistance to any on-going missions in the region. UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi with its regional office in Fukuoka, Japan, have prepared in tandem shortlists of rehabilitation and construction related experts who are on alert for possible deployment at short notice.
The agency's Habitat Programme Managers (HPMs) in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and the Philippines are ready to assist in emergency or assessment operations. The HPMs are focusing on two main objectives – to assist the affected countries to articulate human settlement dimensions (shelter, sanitation and water supply plus integrated settlement planning that leads to community empowerment) in the assessment and resulting interventions, and to lay the foundation for UN-HABITAT's involvement in any future reconstruction projects. Their initial assessment will provide further guidance for the timing of deployment and the portfolio of required expertise in the field.
In Sri Lanka, UN-HABITAT has drawn up a list of 10 cities that will benefit from immediate relief estimated to cost US$1 million. The cities of Moratuwa, Galle, Weligama, Matara, Tangalla, Hambantota, Kattankudy, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Jaffna are to benefit from a variety of rehabilitation activities, including cleaning of wells, emptying of septic tanks and toilets and cleaning of market places. Sri Lanka has reported more than 30,500 people killed and over a million displaced by the tsunami. Over 5,500 people are still missing while more than 800,000 people have been forced into 800 makeshift camps.
Furthermore, under the Flash Appeal, UN-HABITAT is aiming to immediately rehabilitate 2,000 partially damaged houses and to partially reconstruct some 8,000 destroyed houses in Sri Lanka. It will also assist in the relocation of a minimum of 5,000 families living in hazardous areas. A US$10 million multi-partner collaborative response will see UN-HABITAT working hand-in- hand with UNDP, NGOs and government institutions.
In Indonesia, the agency will work with UNDP on a US$3 million project aimed at restoring minor infrastructure in the affected areas. While the damage assessment is still continuing, the initial analysis suggests that the coastal settlements of Aceh province bore the brunt of the disaster. Most recent estimates show that almost 100,000 people were killed and about 500,000 displaced, sheltering in tents or scattered refugee camps . In Thailand, the two UN agencies aim to initiate a US$1 million project to support safer housing in six tsunami-affected provinces.
In Somalia, UN-HABITAT seeks to provide basic shelter to homeless people by rehabilitating properties where possible, as well as by rehabilitating basic infrastructure. It aims to rehabilitate 1,000 houses and build 500 new houses. During the construction phase, UN-HABITAT will provide in-kind technical assistance making use of local and international experts based in Somalia. Initial estimates for the reconstruction activities in the country stand at US$2 million. The 645-kilometre coastline in northeast Somalia was the most affected part of the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation with some 132 deaths reported. Some 1,500 properties were damaged and up to 40 villages were affected.
UN-HABITAT has over two decades experience in the area of post-disaster and post-conflict reconstruction and rehabilitation. To date it has implemented several projects in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The agency is credited with some of the most notable innovations in post-disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction, including a community contracting system developed in its Sri Lanka projects and the community empowerment approach pioneered in Afghanistan.
For further information on UN-HABITAT’s response, contact: Disaster Management Programme, Jaana Mioch, +254 20 624062, email: email@example.com