43,000 IDP families to get permanent housing in Northern Sri Lanka

02/10/2012 – Colombo, Sri Lanka: The 2nd phase of the Indian Housing Project aimed at constructing 43,000 houses for the returnees of the 30 year old conflict, was formally launched today in Mannar, Mullativu and Jaffna, the 3 districts of northern Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) are an implementing partner to the Government of India and will be facilitating the construction or repair of 16,800 houses .

The event was attended by the Minister of Economic Development of Sri Lanka Basil Rajapakse & the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Ashok Kantha.

High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Ashok Kantha said, “approximately 1,500 beneficiaries have been selected to receive assistance under this Project in the first lot and that funds have already been transferred for the first instalment of LKR 100,000 into the bank accounts of beneficiaries and construction work on the ground would begin soon.”

“These houses are being built as a partnership with these people” says the President of SLRCS Jagath Abeysinghe.  “The project is implemented under the “owner driven” concept, where we contribute the bulk amount of funds, however the recipients are also contributing in order to build their own house. This has proved to be a very successful method”

The beneficiaries of the project will receive 550,000 LKR (4230 CHF approx.) in 4 instalments

“We have signed agreements with beneficiaries and have released the first installment for the construction of the foundation,” says Tissa Abeywickrama, Director General of SLRCS.  “Once the foundation is completed, we release funds for walls, roof, and the final finishing in a systematic manner”

The Indian Housing Project is implemented as an integral part of the Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme (PCRP), which has supported the construction of another 3000 houses for the returnees. The programme is funded by a number of other donors, whose contributions are also greatly appreciated by the Red Cross.

The programme seeks to address the complex needs of the population returning home after years of displacement – shelter, livelihoods, water and sanitation, health and care.

Bob McKerrow, the Head of Delegation of IFRC in Sri Lanka says that the aid package provided by the Red Cross looks at many areas that is needed for one to rebuild their life.

“Our approach has always been holistic. We do not disappear after simply constructing a house. We help them to restart a livelihood, which would eventually help them to regain control of their lives. We also provide support for water & sanitation and also for heath and care.”

On 20th of September 2012 the IFRC has launched a fresh appeal to raise additional funds to be able to maintain an integrated support package to the beneficiaries of the housing project.

Meeting the total humanitarian need in the northern region of Sri Lanka is a continuing challenge to both the Sri Lankan government and the humanitarian community supporting it in this work.

SLRCS and the IFRC has gained growing acceptance from all the partners as a credible actor in the northern Sri Lanka. The Revised Emergency Appeal launched by the IFRC is proposing to expand the assistance as needs remain enormous The Red Cross has a well set operational structure in place to support the expansion.

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