Reconstruction of war damaged houses under way
With funding from EU, Australia and SDC:
A partnership between the European Union, the Australian Government,
the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the United
Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), is supporting the
reconstruction and repair of over 4,600 conflict damaged houses in Sri
Lanka's Northern Province. The Government of Sri Lanka is supporting
this initiative through the identification of priority community needs
in the project locations.
Commencing in January 2011, the “Support to Conflict Affected People
through Housing” Project has to-date assisted over 3,000 IDP families in
their reconstruction and repair efforts in the districts of Vavuniya,
Mullaitivu, Killinochchi and Mannar.
Approximately 4,600 families from 60 villages will be supported
through this permanent housing initiative over a period of two and a
half years. It is estimated that more than 16,000 people will benefit
directly through this European Union, Australian Government and SDC
funded project. There is also a strong focus on provision of
construction skills training for 100 youths in affected villages, with
plans to increase to 300, thereby enhancing livelihood opportunities and
supporting the re-establishment of the local economy.
According to estimates, when the war ended in May 2009, over 160,000
houses had been damaged or destroyed and over 300,000 people were
displaced. Recognizing the urgent need to facilitate the dignified
return of displaced families, UN-Habitat initiated several permanent
housing projects in partnership with funding partners and this European
Union, Australian Government and SDC support has proved critically
The current housing recovery project, with an investment of US$ 23
million (SLRS 2.5 billion) is primarily funded by the European Union (SLRS
1.8 billion) with significant co-funding from the Australian Government
and SDC. UN-Habitat and SDC are jointly implementing the project by
providing technical support to home owners.
Using a ‘home owner driven’ approach, this project is currently
assisting families to actively take charge of their own recovery. The
families are responsible for the planning, implementation and monitoring
of their own progress, while vital technical assistance including house
plan designs, selection of skilled labour for construction, purchase of
good quality building materials and support in solving land tenure
issues is provided by UN-Habitat and SDC.
The families selected under this EU/AusAID/SDC/UN-Habitat initiative
are contributing their own labour towards the reconstruction effort.
Building materials are being procured locally, whenever possible, which
is helping to revive local economies in the project locations.
Communities are also being assisted to manufacture their own building
materials, such as concrete blocks, through the provision of block
making moulds and training by the field technical teams.
Raskruban Yogamalar, a project beneficiary from Kanagarayankulam
District Secretariat Division in the Vavuniya district said “We are
extremely happy to be part of this housing project and really appreciate
the support from these foreign donors. Since we had the freedom to build
our own house, we used good quality materials and selected a house plan
of our choice. My family was closely involved in the construction
process. We provided our own labour towards the foundation work. We have
also manufactured our own concrete blocks.
Our ultimate aim was to build a secure home where my family can live
peacefully. We hope this initiative will continue to help conflict
affected people who need assistance with permanent housing.” Yogamalar's
house is now complete and the family is looking forward to moving in to
their new home soon.
To-date, 1,084 vulnerable families have been assisted to undertake
major repairs to their houses, while 1,988 families are receiving
support to completely rebuild their houses. This includes 100 families
in Vavuniya, 1,264 families in Mullaitivu and 1,708 families in
Killinochchi. The activities in Mannar district are scheduled to
commence in early 2012. Vulnerable families such as female-headed
households, elderly home owners and families with disabled family
members are given special attention and support by the technical field
teams. The role of women is heavily promoted in all aspects of the
project and particularly in decision-making and financial control where
women account for 40% of those in leadership roles. Another key feature
of the project progress and assistance by Village Rehabilitation
Committees (VRCs) towards monitoring the project progress and assistance
to vulnerable families. This includes bulk purchase of building
materials through community bargaining and advice and assistance in
This unique partnership between the EU, AusAID, SDC and UN-Habitat is
helping thousands of families in the North to fulfill their needs and
expectations whilst ensuring a sense of ownership through a fully
participatory process with the people. It is also an excellent example
of coordination and strategic thinking and aid effectiveness between
donors. This housing initiative will further enhance the resettlement
efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka in the Northern Province.