Housing Support for Four Thousand Families in the North and East with Funding from the European Union, Australian and Swiss Governments

January 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka: UN-Habitat is extending its partnership with the European Union (EU), Government of Australia (AusAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to implement the second phase of the housing recovery project for conflict affected families. The project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing” will be implemented over the next 30 months to mid 2015 in the North and East. The project will assist 4,000 conflict affected families in the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa to reconstruct and repair their damaged houses.

This programme builds on the success of the current housing recovery project “Support to Conflict Affected People through Housing” implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC with funding by EU, AusAID and SDC, which is supporting over 4,600 families in the districts of Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Killinochchi and Mannar. This project will be completed by December 2013.

On 5th December 2012, UN-Habitat signed the second phase agreement with the European Union, the major funding partner of the programme. The agreement with the Government of Australia was signed earlier in 2012. The EU contribution of LKR 1.9 billion (EUR 11.8 million) will be complemented with funds from AusAID and SDC.

Housing construction will continue using a “Home Owner Driven” process, in which owners are granted the funds and with the technical help of UN-Habitat and SDC contribute their labour, time and resources to ensure the success and completion of the process.

On occasion of the signing of the Agreement, the EU Ambassador H.E. Bernard Savage said: I am extremely pleased with the signature of this new agreement which constitutes the fourth major housing reconstruction programme funded by the EU since 2006. By 2015, the EU will have financially assisted 20,000 families in North and East Sri Lanka to rebuild their houses, many of whom have endured displacement for over a decade. The EU’s total contribution to housing will amount to approximately LKR 7.5 billion (EUR 50 million). These grants add up to ongoing EU-funded programmes (approximately LKR 19 billion or EUR 120 million) supporting livelihoods and socio-economic development in selected districts. By moving from humanitarian assistance to long-term sustainable development projects, the EU will have significantly helped Sri Lanka achieve its main development targets by the year 2016″.

Mr. Yoshinobu Fukasawa, Senior Human Settlements Officer of the UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia Pacific, signing the contract on behalf of UN-Habitat, stated: “UN-Habitat is pleased to partner with the European Union, Government of Australia and SDC in implementing the project “Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing” in the North and East of Sri Lanka. This unique partnership between the EU, AusAID, SDC and UN-Habitat is helping thousands of families in the North and East to fulfil their needs and expectations whilst ensuring a sense of ownership through a fully participatory ‘home owner driven” process of housing construction. It is also an excellent example of coordination and strategic thinking and aid effectiveness between donors. We will continue to work closely together with the EU, AusAID, SDC and the Government of Sri Lanka during the next two and a half years to support families to rebuild their destroyed and damaged homes in the affected districts and assist communities in experiencing the positive benefits of peace.”