European Union Launches Housing Project for Returnee Families in Batticaloa District

May 2013, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka:  The new housing recovery project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing” was officially launched in the Eastern Province by a delegation from the European Union at a ceremony in Eravurpattu DS division in Batticaloa. Commencing in January 2013, this housing project extends the partnership of UN-Habitat with the European Union (EU), Government of Australia (AusAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to provide housing construction support to conflict affected families in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

On 15th May 2013, H.E. Bernard Savage, Ambassador and Head of Delegation for the European Union in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, laid a foundation stone for the house of Ms. Ravindran Maheswary, a beneficiary selected for housing support from Velikakandy village in Batticaloa. Ms. Simona Mari, EU Desk Officer, for Sri Lanka and Maldives, and Mr. Willy Vandenberghe, Minister Counsellor and Head of Operations for EU Sri Lanka and Maldives, also participated in the ceremony. The Divisional Secretary of Eravurpattu DS Division and Senior Officers from UN-Habitat Sri Lanka were also present at the event. Following the ceremony, the EU delegation met with the Velikakandy community members and discussed the primary needs of the village.

The EU has contributed funding of €11.8 Mn as part of the overall funding of €17.6 Mn for this phase of the housing recovery project. In Batticaloa district, the project will assist 1,000 families to reconstruct and repair their damaged houses in the Eravurpattu, Manmunai West and Manmunai South West DS Divisions.

Velikakandy village consists of 158 families who have been affected by three decades of conflict. The families are in need of permanent shelter and access to basic facilities. The main livelihoods of the community are paddy cultivation and fishing.

The housing beneficiary, Ms. Maheswary, is a widow and mother of five children. Her family is currently living in a temporary shelter as she lacks resources to rebuild her damaged home. As a female head of household, Maheswary strives to overcome numerous challenges and to provide a better life for her children. Following the foundation stone ceremony at her house, Ms.Maheswary stated that she is grateful to the donors for the funding that would enable her to construct her own permanent house.

The 30 month project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing” targets the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa, and will assist 4,350 conflict affected families to reconstruct and repair their damaged houses. It is funded by the European Union, Government of Australia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC. Housing construction is undertaken using a “Home Owner Driven” process, in which owners are directly granted the funds. With technical assistance from UN-Habitat and SDC, beneficiaries contribute their own labour, time and resources and are responsible for managing contractors and purchasing materials.