Move to help displaced people in the North:
UN-HABITAT launches $ 28 m housing program
A house destroyed due to terrorism
Dr. Joan Clos
UN-HABITAT in Sri Lanka is successfully implementing its USD 28
million housing program to help people in the North who have been
displaced due to terrorism. The program is funded by the European Union,
AusAid, and Swiss Development Corporation.
UN-HABITAT is helping to build 4,400 new houses in the North to be
presented to civilians who were rescued during the 2006-2009
humanitarian operation. Its Sri Lanka office is making every effort to
find better living conditions for displaced Northerners following an
invitation by the Presidential Task Force for Resettlement, Development
and Security in the Northern Province to assist in the permanent shelter
and infrastructure recovery in the province.
Permanent housing is the basic foundation for those displaced to
rebuild their lives. To achieve these goals, UN-HABITAT has launched an
"owner-driven" housing program where which the families themselves will
have the main say and role in building their new homes. The program is
due to be fully completed in two-and-a-half years.
A conducive environment now exists in the North for people to live in
peace and the families will be resettled in their original places of
residence after the Security Forces eradicated the three-decade scourge
of terrorism. More than 50 villages have been identified for assistance
under the new program which would see complete reconstruction of 2,200
houses which were destroyed. This is apart from their undertaking major
repairs of another 2,200 damaged homes.
According to the United Nations, Sri Lanka has an opportunity for
long-term peace and sustainable development, and timely assistance in
re-establishing these families in sustainable settlements through
permanent reconstruction of their houses will provide them with a sense
of safety, security and dignity.
Inspired by its previous experience in providing over 10,000 houses
for the survivors of the 2004 tsunami devastation, UN-HABITAT seeks to
empower the beneficiaries to be in charge of their own recovery process.
Field-based UN-HABITAT teams will provide technical assistance and
guidance for reconstruction to all beneficiaries. Vulnerable groups such
as women-headed households and those physically handicapped will be
given priority assistance to ensure their safety and welfare.
Many families are grappling to prove their ownership of land due to
documents being destroyed during the period of terror unleashed by the
LTTE, the now defunct terror outfit which was at one-time considered the
most ruthless terrorist group in the world.
It is anticipated that over 1,000 families will benefit from the
assistance to establish security of tenure. Over 600 youth from the
beneficiary communities will receive training in construction skills
with technical support under a Swiss Development Corporation initiative.
Acknowledging the generous financial contribution from the EU, AusAID
and SDC, UN-HABITAT said that it comes at a critical moment in the
recovery process in the northern part of the country.
The program was introduced to three Municipal Councils of the Colombo
Core Area (CCA) in 1997 covering an area of around 75sq km with a total
population of nearly 1.2 million. The area is the nerve centre of the
country's economic activities and the Municipal areas are faced with the
challenge of how best to respond to priority service issues such as
solid waste management, water supply, environmental health, flooding and
The project will develop a sector-specific demonstration project in
one Municipality area in Sri Lanka. It will focus on the involvement and
ownership of the community in organising, delivering and maintaining
basic urban services related to water and sanitation.
The project will serve as a basis for preparing a Municipal strategy
on basic urban services and will be replicated in other cities in Sri
The main activities include selection of the municipalities,
profiling, consultation, preparation of the project document for the
demonstration project, implementation of the demonstration project,
preparation of Municipal basic urban services strategy and a bankable
UN-HABITAT Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos has hailed the agency's
humanitarian staff and their colleagues working in disaster zone in many
In a statement to mark the World Humanitarian Day recently, he said
that disasters, wars and other crises affect millions of people every
year in the Horn of Africa alone. Over 12 million people are in urgent
need of humanitarian support and this figure is multiplied many times
around the globe.
UN-HABITAT and the rest of the UN System last month commended the
work of thousands of aid workers from every country, and in every
affected country, doing their best to meet the needs ofthose affected by
these emergencies. World Humanitarian Day also paid tribute to those who
had lost their lives or injured while providing support to vulnerable
populations in dangerous situations.
"I wish to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for
the work of those of my staff who are part of this community of aid
workers in all countries affected by conflict or disasters, while also
recognising the many thousands of colleagues from other United Nations,
Red-Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Non-Governmental Organizations
worldwide. On behalf of UN-HABITAT, I also reiterate our commitment to
continue to work alongside our partners; adding value where we can by
bringing our own expertise assist in the recovery of the villages, towns
and cities impacted by these events," Dr. Clos was quoted as saying.