12/28/2006, 00.00
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New homes for tsunami survivors

Christian group hands over 50 new homes in Tamil Nadu built despite red tape and local opposition. Governments and humanitarian groups are criticised for delays in reconstruction.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Criticism against governments is mounting at the slow pace of post-tsunami reconstruction two years after the event. By contrast, the Gospel for Asia (GFA) Compassion Services will deliver 50 new houses to families in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu devastated by the tidal wave.


For many of these families, it will be the first time they've had a real roof in two years. Spartan, each new home consists of a living room, kitchen, a bedroom and bathroom, with doors and window frames made of wood.


GFA Compassion Services teams were among the first on the scene in India and Sri Lanka in the days after the waves struck. Initially, GFA missionaries and volunteers simply provided for the immediate needs like food, water, clothing and tents for makeshift shelter. They also took on the task of caring for hundreds of children displaced by the disaster.

GFA teams then shifted gears and began planning homes for the survivors and long-term solutions. But official permission to begin the construction project was slow in coming and came under attack from anti-Christian groups.


In India meanwhile the government was taken to task on the week before the tsunami memorials by the British-based development agency ActionAID. Just 28 per cent of the total 98,447 required houses have been built. On the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where 9,174 homes are needed, reconstruction so far is less than one percent.


A report released last week by former US president Bill Clinton in his capacity as the UN special envoy for tsunami recovery revealed that in Indonesia, where 141,000 houses were destroyed, only 43,400 have been built; in Sri Lanka, where 103,836 houses were destroyed, only 58,384 houses have been built; in India, where 99,290 houses were destroyed only 27,845 have been finished; and in the Maldives, where 8,908 houses were destroyed, only 1,587 have been built. 


Similarly, whilst the global response to the disaster was unprecedented with US$ 14 billion pledged, becoming the highest amount of humanitarian aid ever secured for a single disaster, money has been used very slowly. And it is not always governments’ fault; humanitarian agencies bear some of the blame as well.


Darini Rajasingham Senanayake, an academic at Colombo's Social Scientists Association, slammed the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC)  for using aid money it raised to fund a group of ‘'international experts'' in Colombo. She also accused the IFRC of managing the US$ 2.2 billion it received with people with little technical expertise and knowledge about the local society, politics, culture, languages or institutional structures. (PB)

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