Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Tsunami recovery was about resilient communities.

It was late 1999 when a cyclone and accompanying storm surge hit the island of Sandwip, a small but highly populated island off the coast off Chittagong, on the south-eastern coast of Bangladesh. I was able to land the next day in a chartered Cessna plane and saw the huge damage. Water, food and medical help were urgently needed. We trucked supplies to Chittagong and some additional ones were purchased locally.
I was advised there were pirates on the sea between Chittagong and the island. In my mind I saw the skull and crossed bones, and wanted to ensure our vital relief supplies were not pirated. Who could do the job I wondered ?

And then it dawned. I needed someone equally buchaneering to match the pirates, and felt Saito-san would be the right man. Swashbuckling Saito was working for the Japanese Red Cross, under our International umbrella and he immediately took up the challenge and led the convoy of relief boats through a long moonless night, and somehow managed to avoid the notorious pirates. I recall a photo of Saito-san wearing a bandana and he clearly resembled a pirate, which may have been a deterent. Within two days the affected population on Sandwip had water, food and urgently required medical help. Ever since that day, Saito-san has been one of my Red Cross heroes.
Over a decade has passed, and Saito-san has risen through the ranks of the Japanese Red Cross to being a director of development. Two years ago we spent two days in Trincomalee and visited some projects funded by the Japanese Red Cross.With Saito-san right, Yayoi and Dilesh left.

A fish-drying rack at Sumedhankarapura. This is one of the most resilient communities I have seen in Sri Lanka brought about by a very strategic approach by Sri Lanka Red Cross, supported by the Japanese Red Cross, in an intgrated community development approach. The 71 families in this community were badly affected in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami as they lived in a coastal fishing village. Wisely relocated to a hillside nearby, a new resilient community sprang up and using a 'risk reduction approach,' and putting equal emphasis on housing, water and sanitation, livelihoods, education, health and sport, Sumerhankarapura has blossomed into a community where the tsunami householder thrift and credit society, through revolving funds, has brought prosperity through livelihood development.

Saito-san admiring  the village beauty salon while the owners, mother and daughter look on.


 
This householder society is the major 'agent of change'` and when I inspected their accounts, they had over 1.1 million Sri Lankan rupees in their account. Anyone in the community can apply for a loan for livelihood development, and have to repay the loan within a year with an iunterest rate of 3%.
Children from the Montesori school greet us at the Thrift and Credit society office. I interviewed a number o\f mothers and grandmothers and they spoke of the children and adults being in good health, and how the revolving funds had brought huge economic benefits.

Our mantra during the tsunami was 'build back better' and thriving post tsunsmi communities
like this one, I have seen in the Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, serve to illustrate that the Red Cross/Red Crescent got it right.

 On Wednesday, I accompanied Saito-san to see the new Trincomalee SLRCS branch building, funded by the Japanese Red Cross.

The 10th anniversary of the Asian Tsunami will be acknowledged tomorrow, and I will quietly raise a glass of saki tomorrow and celebrate the fact that  the Red Cross left behind a legacy of resilient communities, that have faced more disasters and have come through with minimal damage. Resilience, risk reduction are not just words but life saving measures on the ground. Kampai Saito-san and all your hard working colleagues in the Japanese Red Cross.

All photos taken by: Bob McKerrow.

5 comments:

Asanga Ranasinghe said...

Nice work!

oakleyses said...

oakley sunglasses wholesale, chanel handbags, burberry pas cher, tory burch outlet, nike free, nike air max, nike outlet, michael kors pas cher, longchamp outlet, ugg boots, jordan shoes, replica watches, louboutin pas cher, christian louboutin shoes, polo outlet, jordan pas cher, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, polo ralph lauren outlet online, longchamp pas cher, replica watches, louis vuitton, kate spade outlet, ray ban sunglasses, air max, gucci handbags, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin uk, uggs on sale, prada handbags, cheap oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, sac longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton, ugg boots, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany jewelry, nike free run, nike roshe, tiffany and co, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin outlet, prada outlet, polo ralph lauren, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses

oakleyses said...

ralph lauren uk, nike air max, uggs outlet, michael kors, true religion jeans, coach purses, true religion outlet, north face uk, hogan outlet, ray ban pas cher, coach outlet store online, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike air force, timberland pas cher, true religion outlet, lululemon canada, nike roshe run uk, polo lacoste, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online, sac vanessa bruno, nike blazer pas cher, coach outlet, hollister uk, nike free uk, north face, sac hermes, new balance, michael kors outlet online, hollister pas cher, michael kors, oakley pas cher, nike air max uk, burberry outlet, kate spade, nike tn, converse pas cher, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet, replica handbags, guess pas cher, burberry handbags

oakleyses said...

iphone 6s plus cases, nike trainers uk, mont blanc pens, herve leger, new balance shoes, chi flat iron, nike huaraches, bottega veneta, soccer jerseys, iphone 6 plus cases, p90x workout, oakley, wedding dresses, lululemon, timberland boots, mcm handbags, louboutin, vans outlet, instyler, ralph lauren, north face outlet, hollister clothing, abercrombie and fitch, asics running shoes, iphone 6s cases, iphone cases, mac cosmetics, babyliss, iphone 5s cases, valentino shoes, nfl jerseys, jimmy choo outlet, soccer shoes, north face outlet, longchamp uk, giuseppe zanotti outlet, hermes belt, iphone 6 cases, baseball bats, insanity workout, reebok outlet, s6 case, ipad cases, celine handbags, hollister, beats by dre, ghd hair, nike roshe run, ferragamo shoes, nike air max

oakleyses said...

ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, moncler outlet, replica watches, thomas sabo, lancel, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, wedding dresses, moncler, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, canada goose uk, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, swarovski crystal, vans, supra shoes, louis vuitton, pandora charms, pandora uk, toms shoes, moncler, canada goose jackets, pandora jewelry, ugg, converse, canada goose, barbour, juicy couture outlet, canada goose outlet, pandora jewelry, moncler, hollister, canada goose outlet, canada goose, canada goose, canada goose outlet, ugg uk, barbour uk, swarovski, marc jacobs, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, ray ban, moncler uk, converse outlet, nike air max, moncler outlet, doudoune moncler, karen millen uk, links of london, montre pas cher, coach outlet