This morning we are in Pottuvil, eastern Ampara district. Stopped at 3 villages yesterday afternoon in Wellawaya, Monaragala district to see progress of houses we are funding under flood recovery programme. Here Keti, IFRC programme coordinator, talks to a family who are benefitting from Sri Lanka Red Cross housing programme.
It was a nine hour trip from Colombo to Pottuvil yesterday. We stopped at Wellawaya for a few hours where we met Sri Lanka Red Cross field staff who are supervising the flood recovery programme where we are supporting SLRCS building hoiuses, latrines and livelihoods for thousands of people affected by floods in January this year.
Keti Khurtsia, our new programme coordinator accompanied me anfd it was good to introduce her to another programme she will be supervising.
It is an owner driven housing programme where the SLRCS give cash grants in tranches. The villagers fire their own bricks from quality clay in the villages and are totally in control of building their houses. Most of the recepients are poor day labourers, who have a small plot of land to grow some crops.
Today, we drive north to Olluvil and Nindavur where we will be opening water supply and latrine programmes to many schools. SLRCS/IFRC have a very large hygiene promotion programme in this area which support a 252 km water supply project which provides water to over 75,000 people at a cost of US$ ten million. Funding came through the tsunami operation.
What impresses me about the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) is how they are really working at ‘grass roots’ on key risk reduction programmes. In Pottuvil with a population of over 20,000 people, the large town water supply was built and funded by SLRCS/IFRC. The Finnish Red Cross have built an excellent base hospital for the district and yesterday we see a well planned flood recovery programme bringing houses, latrines and livelihood programmes to many thousands of flood affected people. This local picture is repeated all over the country where Red Cross is changing the lives of people through clean water, hygiene promotion, latrines, improved medical facilities, dengue fever and malaria eradication programmes. Our programme in the north for internally displaced people who suffered under 25 years of conflict is such a joy to see, as people’s lives return to normal. Where once only gunfire was heard, the laughter of children drowns out all other soiunds in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
It is wonderful to be part of this.