Plan builds child-friendly housing units for tsunami victims

Mar 30 (IL) A key, post-tsunami permanent housing project funded by Plan International, at a cost of US$ 1.4 million, was declared open by President Chandrika Kumaratunga at Yayawatte in Hambantota recently.

At a ceremony to launch the new housing project the President cut a blue ribbon at the entrance to a model house containing two bedrooms, kitchen, toilet and living room. After which, she lit a traditional oil lamp and addressed a large gathering of adults and children who attended the ceremony. President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse thanked Plan for assisting in the reconstruction process.

Plan Sri Lanka's Country Director Myrna Evora in her speech emphasized the child friendly aspect of this project, which will apply Plan's Child Centred Community Development (CCCD) approach. Finding out what children want by listening to what they have to say is an important feature of this approach. The design of the house will be revised after consultations with children and adults. It would include three bedrooms and a separate toilet and bath. There will be three designs for people to choose from.

The beneficiaries of the 200 houses will be selected from 500 applicants affected by the tsunami of December 26, 2004. The Urban Development Authority which is responsible for supervising post-tsunami reconstruction activities, described Yayawatte as a model for an eco-friendly village. Lagoons and wooded areas, together with the flora and fauna they sustain, are to be protected on the 78-acre plot. According to the architects the targeted date of completion of the project is end November 2005.

Yayawatte was also the subject of interest to a German media team that visited the site just three days before the formal opening ceremony. The team comprised six journalists from Nurenberger Nachrichten, Berliner Morgenpost, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, RTL Franken Live TV and Gong TV magazine, as well as one freelance radio journalist, accompanied by two representatives from Plan Germany. From March 8 to 12 they visited Plan projects in the tea plantations and remote villages in the South, before arriving at Hambantota.

The Yayawatte ceremony was attended by Urban Development and Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunewardena, his deputy Mahinda Amaraweera, Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries Chamal Rajapakse and Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Nihal Galappathy