The problems with aid
DESPITE the huge influx of international and, national aid and aid
workers after the December 26 tsunami, many people still languish
without livelihood, without homes or a decent place to live, without
water and proper sanitary facilities, many still suffer from ailments
and conditions related to the tsunami and many adults and children have
yet not mentally and emotionally recovered from the trauma.
The situation is much the same all over the tsunami-hit districts.
People who have yet not received homes have moved in with relatives or
stay on rent since their temporary shelters are not conducive for long
The biggest problem appear to be livelihoods and means of income. In
the south, at least half the fisherfolk have not resumed their
work-citing due to a number of reasons (no boats, no tackle, cannot
There appears to be a general lethargy about getting back on their
feet and resuming life plus a certain bitterness about the way aid has
In the East, the problem of the tsunami has only heightened
humanitarian issues that were the legacy of a two-decade long war.
For many of these people, the tsunami was only the latest in a
long-list of disasters that had wreaked their lives, torn their families
apart, affected their livelihoods and their children's growth and
Even after the tsunami, despite the enormous international and local
efforts, certain villages are left in the margins, unable to recover and
still awaiting support from some benovelont agency.
The Non-Violent Peace Force in Batticaloa reports of many marginal
villages like Mailankarachchi, that have been thus neglected in the
In addition to suffering war and tsunami, the village is also an area
with a history of Tamil-Muslim tensions. The villagers depended on the
lagoon and sea for their livelihood of producing dried fish. Prior to
the tsunami there was a brick making industry which is now destroyed.
Many boats are lost or are badly damaged. The fishermen who earlier
were self sufficient, now have to depend on temporary jobs and day-labour
for income. Out of 235 families only 81 receive tsunami food stamps.
There is also a lack of permanent housing in this village.
Kavattamuni is another such village that has to grapple with issues
of multiple disasters like tsunami and flood damage in the background of
conflict and poverty.
Despite being a large village with 6000 population, there is hardly
any proper access to this place - the roads being utterly neglected and
damaged due to heavy monsoon flooding and the tsunami.
Many of these villagers are IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from
Vahaneri and they cannot access their own paddy lands for cultivation
Since they have no livelihood the villagers need micro-credit support
to take on different livelihoods. They need more wells (which were
damaged by the tsunami) and many of the houses still remain roofless.
Pallainagar a mixed (Muslim and Tamil) community of 750 families that
has been uprooted from their homes at least thrice due to the conflict
and suffer from acute poverty and deprivation of livelihood.
A state sponsored housing scheme is lying incomplete and abandoned
even as the villagers go without adequate shelter and housing.
These villages need urgent attention of humanitarian agencies working
in the fields of disaster management (flood protection) livelihoods and
micro credit and housing and infrastructure.
What's more, to add to the crisis many of the small, grassroots NGOs
that have been working in the war-affected areas prior to the tsunami
are seeing themselves being elbowed out by the big players.
Many different agencies and donors rushed in to the affected areas
after the tsunami with little knowledge of local conditions or
grassroots contacts but with a lot of money that needed to be spent
There has been little or no consultation or coordination with
existing NGOs and ongoing programmes.
Short term, high spending projects and programmes often without links
to local government or other long-term donor projects, could raise
serious issues of sustainability.
When the tsunami monies have been spent and many of these
organisations leave Sri Lanka, they may also leave behind a set of very
complex problems. In this situation, local NGOs would have to pick up