Sri Lanka: tsunami three month review
8 April 2005
Background Unlike Indonesia, Sri Lanka was affected by the three tsunami waves, but not by the earthquake which caused most of the destruction in Indonesia. The initial emergency response was carried out by the Sri Lankan authorities and local NGOs. Three months later, Tsunami-related consultations have decreased and the health system is more or less back to its normal activity. MSF has considerably scaled back operations, but continues to provide shelter, water and sanitation facilities, psychosocial support and epidemiological surveillance through mobile clinics and at hospital level. Most frequent diseases reported are chronic ones such as diabetes, hypertension, viral fever and upper respiratory tract infections. No measles, cholera, encephalitis or dengue suspicion at mid-March. MSF Activity Overview in Sri Lanka
Total current international MSF staff: 29
Total relief materials arrived: over 500 metric tons, excluding a significant amount of supplies which were bought locally
The first of several teams arrived in Colombo on 27 December and reached Batticaloa and Trincomale three days later. During the 10 to 12 days following their arrival, MSF teams carried out assessments along 200 kilometers of the eastern coast from Pulmodai to Koddaikalar, and covered approximately the same distance between Galle and Poituvil, on the south coast. They visited the most affected areas from Point Pedro to Colombo.
The assessments revealed an uneven destruction of the coastal villages, with those closest to the sea being partially or totally destroyed. The survivors lived in public buildings or with neighbours and family. Livelihoods - boats, fishing nets, fisheries, hotels, restaurants etc - had been destroyed. Access was often difficult during the first week due to destroyed roads and bridges.
The teams found local people to be very active in rebuilding and cleaning up. They discovered no medical emergency, but did treat some specific medical needs. The Sri Lankan medical system was well organized and remained efficient after the tsunami hit the coast. Vaccination coverage was also relatively high. Respiratory tract infections and diarrhea constituted the most common problems. By mid-January more than 160 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were present on the ground.
After having provided emergency medical aid through mobile clinics and existing medical facilitaties as well as distributed relief goods during the first weeks after the tsunami, MSF orientated activities towards supporting the most vulnerable people in rebuilding their lives. MSF provided psychosocial support in collaboration with the local NGO Shade and the NGO Payasos Sin Fronteras ('Clowns Without Frontiers') and helped families re-establish their livelihoods. Operations are being finalised.
3 months after - activities per location
Support to Ministry of Health in organising mobile clinics and epidemiological surveillance in 10 areas.
Support to temporary hospitals (Nintavur, Karaitivu, Marathamunai, Saintamarutu, Tirukkovil) including installation, drugs, water and sanitation, training of staff in waste management is being finalised by mid-April.
MSF supported the NGO Payasos Sin Fronteras to give performances in camps and schools. They performed for over 7500 people.
MSF built over 1000 temporary shelters in displaced camps in Thirukkovil, Potuvil and Kalmunai.
Water & Sanitation
MSF set up latrines and water tanks in the camps.
Non-food items were distributed in two stages: first kits to 6000 displaced families incluging jerrycans, buckets, blankets, soap, and mats, followed by a reinstallation kit as MSF finished temporary shelters (kitchen items, mosquito nets, hygiene items...).
MSF teams are currently based in Batticaloa, and Vakkharai.
Medical activities (mostly mobile clinics in remote and inaccessible areas) have stopped since January 12th. All medical material and medicine that have been sent to Sri Lanka during the emergency will stay in Sri Lanka : MSF is making donations to health structures based on evaluations of needs by our medical team
An MSF psychologist has done an evaluation and made propositions. ACF will take over from there and set up a program.
Cleaning land plots/parcels
MSF teams are in the process of cleaning up land parcels, still filled with debris/wreckage from the destructions. With caterpillars and other engines, local daily workers clean up land parcels so that families can start rebuilding their homes. Already 2375 people have had their land parcel cleaned up that way in the area of Batticaloa (including Periakallar and Panichankerry areas)
This is about half of what is planned.
This part of the program is also a way of re-injecting some money in the local economy, to help people gain some form of independence.
Vakkarai : 1286 families received tents, hygiene kits, 3 blankets and jerricans
Batticaloa town : 1918 tents.
Reconstruction kits : carpenter kits and mason kits.
Widows received a special kit : including knife, metallic bucket, cooker, panel, pot
Fishing in Batticaloa
Fishing kits : 880 fishing kits were handed out. Estimated people : 8 215.
Fish selling kits : (bicycle/scale/knife) 87. Estimated people : 435.
Boats : 20 to fishermen who do not belong to any corporation 4 motor boats.
Already built : 15 ie 75 people
Planned : 500 ie 1 500 people
Water & Sanitation
Well rehabilitation : 222 ie 1110 people, in Periakallar, Kodaikallar, Punachimunai.
Well cleaning : 648 ie 3240 people, in Periakallar, Kodaikallar, Punachimunai.
Water trucking for 4750 people in Periakallar, Kodaikallar, Punachimunai. This will be handed over to ACF.
Individual latrines on private land parcels are now being built. By mid april, 300 will have been built.
Re-injecting some cash in the local economy
Through cleaning up land parcel, the support of a brick factory which had been severely affected by the tsunami, and other work. Our focus is on the most affected/vulnerable people. We plan touché, through this program, 10 000 people living in camps, mostly.
Medical consultations took place in the first weeks
In Rekawa an MSF team is building 60 semi-permanent shelters on land allocated to the beneficiaries or on privately owned land.
Water & Sanitation
Support in rehabilitating water systems, distribution of water tanks and water trucking. Donated water pumps and 15000 liter MSF water bladders.
Construction of 70 toilets/showers .
MSF distributed non-food items to over 100 families in Rekawa (blankets, sheets, beds, mosquito nets, tables, chairs, cooking sets, cookers.).
Distribution of sheets, blankets, vaccine fridge to hospitals.
Targeted support to displaced families including psychosocial assistance
MSF continues to give support to a number of families including helping them to obtain land allocated by the government, or an agreement to construct on private owned land.
A mental health assessment resulted in a short-term psychosocial support program. The program targets people who will resettle into semi-permanent structures. MSF facilitated local mental health workers by identifying people in need and enrolling them in group counselling sessions. The team also stimulated sports activities, activities involving photos for children to discuss their present life, and hosted the NGO Payasos Sin Fronteras (Clowns Without Borders) to give performances.
Shelter, Water & Sanitation
MSF renovated two schools providing shelter for 37 families in Matara and 66 families in Dickwella, including water and sanitation facilities.
MSF facilitated local mental health workers by identifying people in need and enrolling them in group counselling sessions. The team also stimulated sports activities, activities involving photos for children to discuss their present life, and hosted the NGO Payasos Sin Fronteras (Clowns Without Borders) to give performances.