January 29, 2013, Killinochchi, Sri Lanka. A delegation of Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) from Australia visited Piramanthanaru village in Killinochchi district recently. The visiting MPs included Hon. Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Scott Morrison, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship as well as Productivity and Population and Mr. Michael Keenan, Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection. During their visit, the delegation met conflict affected families who are rebuilding their homes through the project “Support to Conflict Affected People through Housing”. Mrs. R. Ketheeswaran, the District Secretary of Killinochchi, officials from the Kandawali Divisional Secretariat, senior officers from AusAID and UN-Habitat staff also participated in the field visit.
The village of Piramanthanaru located in Kandavalai Divisional Secretariat area of Killinochchi is one of 160 Grama Niladahri (GN) Divisions in the Northern Province that have received funding through this housing recovery initiative. With an investment of US$ 23 Million (SLRS. 2.5 Billion), the project is funded by the European Union (EU), the Australian Government (AusAID) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Australia’s contribution to the project has been A$3.5 Million (SLRS. 396 Million) It is jointly implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC with the close participation of local communities. A total of 4,648 families are repairing and reconstructing their homes in the districts of Vavuniya, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu and Mannar. The project will be completed this year.
The Australian Parliamentary delegation visited two families in Piramanthanaru who have recently completed rebuilding their war damaged homes. Each family received financial assistance amounting to Rs.500,000 (approx.US$ 4,000). Ms. Bishop planted trees in the beneficiary home gardens to mark the occasion of their visit.
The beneficiary families in the Northern Province are constructing their homes utilising a “home owner driven” process of reconstruction. Families utilise the financial grant to hire skilled labour and purchase building materials while contributing their own labour. Families are further supported by UN-Habitat and SDC with technical assistance on developing house plans, sourcing skilled labour, project management, purchase and selection of quality building materials and support with land tenure resolution.
Ms. P. Saroja, a project beneficiary from the village said “We are very grateful to the donors for supporting us to rebuild our home. Our standard of living has greatly improved since we moved to our permanent house. Our family is now leading a better and more comfortable life”. Mr. T. Sivayamoorthy, President of the Village Rehabilitation Committee (VRC) stated “We were given an opportunity to support our community voluntarily through the VRC formed by this project. There are further housing needs in our village. We are now empowered to support our people with further assistance in reconstruction efforts”.
During the field visit, Ms.Bishop expressed her appreciation for the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the families.
The EU, AusAID and SDC are jointly providing funding to assist a further 4,000 families to reconstruct and repair their houses in the North and East through the project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing”. This project, which commenced in January 2013, is jointly implemented by SDC and UN-Habitat and will build upon the success of recent housing projects.