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DateLine Friday, 26 December 2008

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Two million benefitted by tsunami projects

Four years after the tsunami, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Sri Lanka (IFRC) together with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) has completed 223 tsunami recovery projects across the country, benefiting nearly two million people, a release said.

According to the IFRC's Four Year Progress Report, the most significant achievement has been in the area of permanent housing. The Red Cross has supported the construction of 22,665 houses.

By the first quarter of 2009, 32,886 houses will be built with Red Cross funding. This represents 27 per cent of the 120,000 houses damaged or destroyed by the tsunami, it said.

"We have adopted an integrated approach linking houses with water and sanitation, health services, roads, income sources and other essential factors," Sri Lanka Red Cross Society President Jagath Abeysinghe said.

A nursing school with 31 hospitals and a health centre have been built or rehabilitated under an agreement with the Health Ministry to reconstruct 69 health facilities across the country.

Over 200,000 people now have access to an improved water source. Pipeline projects in the Galle, Matara and Ampara districts have connected new resettlement sites and surrounding villages to the main water supply for the first time.

Major investment has also been made to restore and improve the livelihoods of the tsunami affected.

The Red Cross has completed approximately 40 livelihood projects under which 36,460 households were supported to recover, strengthen the diversify their livelihoods.

R. Janaka Chaminda from Beruwela was once depended on fishing for his livelihood.

The Red Cross assisted to rebuild his home with seeds, tools and agricultural training to start a market garden.

With 10 perches to cultivate, Janaka now grows 16 types of fruit and vegetables. "This is my livelihood now," he says as he proudly shows off his garden and new home.

"I grow spinach, mint, pomegranates and watermelons."

"We are now shifting towards long team development programmes in areas such as disaster management and community based First Aid which strengthen the capacity of local people to respond to future crisis," Paul Emes, Head of delegation for the IFRC said.

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