Tsunami Relief Efforts Still Strong

Long-Term Reconstruction Main Priority, Says Caritas

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ROME, JULY 1, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Months after a tsunami ravaged coastal communities in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, the Caritas confederation of agencies continues to keep the momentum of relief efforts going.

Emergency relief assistance is gradually giving way to longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction work, reported the international aid organization.

Caritas is giving priority to the construction of permanent housing, livelihood recovery, psychosocial assistance and infrastructure rehabilitation, especially water and sanitation.

Reconstruction efforts, however, have been slowed down by a number of constraints, mainly land availability and site restrictions for new houses, need for government permission and approval on housing standards, and scarce building materials.

Livelihood recovery

Despite the setbacks, significant headway has been made, for example, in Indonesia where Caritas has made agreements to build 7,280 houses in Aceh and North Sumatra.

In India, the organization has coordinated efforts to construct 5,830 houses in Andra Pradesh, 724 houses in Tamil Nadu and 2,000 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Livelihood recovery is another important component of the Caritas tsunami response programs in India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, and efforts have been made to jumpstart local economies.

In communities where there is heavy reliance on the fishing industry, Caritas has worked to repair damaged fishing boats and nets and provide new boats.

Cash-for-work programs have gotten under way, and are linked to repair and construction of roads, schools, clinics and housing sites.

In Indonesia, continuing earthquakes have also created new needs for building and reconstruction in the mountainous areas of North Sumatra, Nias and Simuelue Islands.

Quiet optimism

Liz Stone, Caritas Internationalis Asia Tsunami emergency officer, recently visited Caritas projects in Indonesia.

«It is such an inspiration to speak with people who have lost so much yet are quietly optimistic that together we can rebuild and strengthen their communities for the future,» she said. «They have a real focus on children.

«It seems so quiet in temporary camps without the noisy presence of young children. The surviving children are well-supported by their guardians and assisted to continue their schooling.»

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