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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2491

Income recovery program of the ILO continues to provide technical assistance for tsunami livelihood development projects

Sunil C. Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 15 January, (Asiantribune.com): Income Recovery Technical assistance Programme [IRTAP]of the International Labor Organization will continue to provide their technical support to the Reconstruction and Development Agency [RADA] Livelihood Unit in 2007 to cater for the outstanding livelihood needs of the tsunami victims. Doekle Wielinga:  "RADA and the ILO are conducting a micro finance needs assessment to find out is micro enterprises have already been served or that more credit is needed."Doekle Wielinga: "RADA and the ILO are conducting a micro finance needs assessment to find out is micro enterprises have already been served or that more credit is needed."

Chief Technical Advisor of the IRTAP, Doekle Wielinga says that RADA and the ILO are conducting a micro finance needs assessment to find out is micro enterprises have already been served or that more credit is need. As part of RADA's lobbying that led to the requisition of 70 Million Euros of fresh funds. This fund t will be disbursed though the Central Bank (20 Million euros) and the DFCC Bank (50 million euros). "We will monitor this project closely", Doekle Wielinga said.

A fourth Needs Assessment Survey Income Recovery [NASIR] has just been finalized and figures on the livelihood recovery rate will be available by the end of January. Also a feasibility study is underway for setting up an economic center in Boosa and that will serve the Southern Province. According to .Wielinga the proposed economic center would assist tsunami-affected entrepreneurs to display their products and meet local and international buyers.

Replying to questions raised by the media, Wielinga said that the proposed economic center would be developed with the assistance of the INGOs, NGOs and the private sector. Explaining about their recently concluded business climate surveys for the affected business community in Kalutara and Matara, he said it would give indications how RADA could find solutions for their prevailing problems by eliminating the constraints. When referring about IRTAP he said that after the completion of the southern studies, the IRTAP hopes to spread the same methods to other devastated districts in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to media, he said due to the prevailing security situation, fishermen in the eastern and Northern provinces are in need of alternative livelihood projects. We are holding feasibility studies on this matter and setup alternative livelihood projects , with the assistance of the INGOs and other donor agencies, he said.

‘Cash For Work’ is one of alternative project for the tsunami affected community in the east and northern provinces. A number of donor agencies have shown their interest to implement such projects to renovate damaged infrastructure in these provinces. We have our teams in Jaffna, Kilinochchi and the eastern province. These teams will coordinate these projects, he said.

The IRTAP will continue to diessmenite guidelines on labor standards, engineering and contracting and procurement standards to those agencies that are implementing infrastructure projects at the community level. This is a joint effort of RADA, the Ministry of Labor Relations and Foreign Affairs and ICTAD to raise the awareness of the INGOs and BGOs in this field.

Mr. Wielinga said RADA and IRTAP jus finalized the fourth Needs Assessment Survey Income Recovery [NASIR] for the tsunami affected areas. The study shows that significant progress in income-generation recovery has been made for women over the past year.

Nearly 95% of respondents stated that there was at least one female member in their household who had lost her income due to the tsunami and who is now earning some type of income for the household. This was true of only 65% of female income earners one year ago.

Recovery of income-generating activities for men was less noteworthy. 84% of respondents stated that there was at least one male member of their household who had lost his income due to the tsunami and who now is earning some type of income for the household. This number was 88% one year ago.

In NASIR III and IV, approximately 30% of the individuals interviewed were not engaged in permanent employment at the time of the interview. At both points in time (2005 and 2006), the two main reasons for not working in the same order were: no access to materials/assets and family obligations.

With respect to monthly incomes earned, substantial progress has been made. 57% of the respondents stated that its household monthly income for October 2006 was more than Rs. 5,000 compared to only 32% of households in September 2005.

The number of families reporting to live on less than Rs. 2,000 per month has decreased from 25% in 2005 to only 8% in 2006. That said income inequality persists. 25% of families who have moved to into new resettlement villages stated earnings of less than Rs. 2,000 per month compared to 19% of families who remain in transitional shelter sites and 6% who live in their own house on their own land in the same location where they resided at the time of the tsunami. While permanent housing has been cited as a pre-requisite for income recovery, a physical structure is not enough.

This finding elucidates the importance of social stability and infrastructure in income recovery. Having resided in transitional shelter sites for nearly two years now or having returned to the neighborhoods where they once lived or have continued to live, working individuals are well situated in local social and economic networks. Due to the newness of resettlement villages, such social networks and infrastructure do not exist yet (in addition to any shortcomings of economic and physical infrastructure). Income recovery at the household level according to sector of employment continues to steadily increase, with the percentages of households earning their main sources of income from the same sector now as they did at the time of the tsunami rising to:97% in Colombo.83% in Kalutara,84% in Galle,88% in Matara,93% in Hambantota,74% in Ampara,70% in Batticaloa,72% Trincomalee,92% Mullaitivu and 45% Jaffna.

The effect of the conflict on income recovery in the North, particularly the Jaffna District, is pronounced. 55% of the individuals interviewed were not earning an income in October 2006.

A year ago, in October 2005, 61% of households in Jaffna were earning their main source of income in the fisheries sector followed by the small business ands services sectors (15%). Only 8% of households were reliant on non-work sources for their livelihood (i.e., Government assistance and/or foreign remittances). This later figure now has increased, with 45% of households currently dependent on non-work income course for their survival. With respect to income, 80% of the respondents in Jaffna claimed to be earning less than Rs. 2000 per month in NASIR IV.

During NASIR III this figure was 81%. While figure is the same, context is completely different).Government assistance in the form of the Rs. 5,000 cash grants appear to have been efficiently distributed with 91% of respondents stating that they received all four installments- this is marked improvement over October 2005 when only 29% of respondents had claimed receiving all 4 installments. In October 2005, the majority of respondents (89%) stated that in the first 10 months after the tsunami cash grants was the most important assistance that they had received for livelihood restoration (followed by receiving equipment).

In November 2006, 27% of respondents stated that having a home was the most important assistance that they had received for their livelihood restoration followed by grants (21%).Our most recent survey shows a strong relationship between the stated needs of tsunami-affected families for their livelihood recovery and that these needs are being met. In October 2005, 34% of families (this was the highest percentage) who were randomly interviewed clamed that information about how to repair their home or own a home again was the most important information that they needed for their livelihood recovery. That such assistance was forthcoming was confirmed by NASIR IV as in November 2006, 27% of respondents stated that having a home was the most important assistance that they had received for livelihood restoration.

In November 2006, 40% of respondents stated that information about loans is the most important information that they need for income recovery over the next 6 –12 months. If the results for housing information needs between 2005 and 2006 are any indication, then interviewees are feeling settled and are ready to make a solid investment in income recovery. Today only 9% stated that information about how to repair their home or own a home again was the most important information that they needed for their livelihood recovery which re-confirms the progress owner-driven and donor-driven programmes have made.

The above findings reaffirm the phased livelihood approach curve – in year one people have stated that cash grants and equipment at the relief stage were the most importance assistance for livelihood restoration followed by having a home in year two or the reconstruction phase and what they have requested for next year is loans that are indicative of the longer-term development phase. In fact, 72% of currently working individuals are interested in loan facilities to improve their income generating potential.

Interested persons are hoping to access capital for the following: to buy new machines & equipment (37%); to buy raw materials (35%); to expand current business (28%) or to start completely new enterprises (22%).Another important indicator that working individuals are headed back to more stable and permanent forms of employment is their willingness to undertake manual labour on a ‘cash-for’-work’ basis. Only 41% of respondents are willing to engage in cash-for-work in the future which in down from 53% a year ago. (NASIR II (36%), III (53%), and IV (41%)) While substantial progress has been made, work remains to be done especially in new resettlement villages and in finding permanent housing solutions to families who remains with friends and relations as well as in transitional shelters.

- Asian Tribune -

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