European Union Parliamentarians Visit Housing Beneficiaries in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province

July 2013, Mullaitivu Sri Lanka: A delegation of European Union (EU) Parliamentarians led by the Chair, Ms. Jean Lambert, visited housing beneficiaries in Mullaitivu District in the North of Sri Lanka on 16 July 2013. Members of the EU delegation laid foundation stones for two houses destroyed by the conflict in Iranapalai Grama Niladhari (GN) Division and planted trees in the beneficiaries’ gardens to commemorate their visit. The delegation consisting of six EU Parliamentarians were on a five day visit to Sri Lanka during which time they also visited EU funded development projects in the North.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is currently implementing two projects funded by the European Union that are supporting conflict affected families to reconstruct and repair their damaged homes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The two projects, “Support to Conflict Affected through Housing” and “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing”, are supporting the reconstruction and repair of over 9,400 houses and the establishment of vital community infrastructure facilities in conflict affected villages. The projects are co-funded by the Government of Australia (AusAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC. To-date, over 4,800 houses have been completed.

In Iranapalai GN Division, the project is supporting 214 families to reconstruct their damaged homes. Housing reconstruction is undertaken using a “Home Owner Driven” process, in which home owners are provided with cash grants. With technical assistance from UN-Habitat and SDC, beneficiaries contribute their own labour, time and resources and are responsible for hiring skilled construction workers and purchasing building materials.

Village Reconstruction Committees (VRCs) are established in each village to mobilise the beneficiaries and provide extra support to the most vulnerable families to reconstruct their houses. Infrastructure interventions such as common wells, pre-schools and community centres are identified through community-run Settlement Improvement Planning workshops. These interventions are implemented by Community Based Organizations in the project locations.

During the field visit, the EU parliamentary delegation expressed their appreciation for the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the families in rebuilding their homes and expressed satisfaction on the project progress.