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AUROVILLE TSUNAMI RELIEF AND REHABILITATION PROGRAM Progress Report, 26 January, 2005

Under the umbrella of the Auroville Village Action Group, the Auroville Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Centre has been functioning since December 26 th , the day the tsunami hit the Tamil Nadu coast. Its main task up till now has been to provide immediate need-based emergency relief to the residents of 20 affected villages and communities, all located in the Auroville area. All activities are being carried out in close collaboration with local authorities. A core group of 25 volunteers have taken up responsibilities ranging from overall coordination to cleaning, distribution, communication, trauma counselling and rehabilitation.

By means of the following brief summary, we like to inform you about all our implemented and planned activities. 

Phase 1: EMERGENCY RELIEF

Immediately after the tsunami hit in the early hours of December the 26 th of last year, a group of concerned Aurovilians met. Faced with the influx of fleeing village residents, they decided to immediately open an emergency relief camp. In total 2500 villages residents were given food and shelter during the three days the relief camp was functioning.

Twenty villages and communities were identified as Auroville's main concern. On the basis of need assessments, it was decided to immediately start distribution of food and non-food items like blankets, clothes and school materials. Although most distribution activities have been completed, monitoring of the situation indicated that it was necessary to concentrate on a second round of distribution to selected communities.

Daily a group of 50 to100 volunteers are working in the villages to remove the waste and debris laying on village streets and lands. The expectation is that this work will continue for at least two more weeks, after which the situation will be assessed again.

A special team is taking care of the needs of the nine Auroville beach communities and its residents. Depending on needs, individuals and families have been relocated, urgent individual financial needs have been met, cleaning activities have been undertaken, infrastructure and house repairs have taken place, and damaged fences have been resurrected.

 

Pending issues are: company losses, house repairs, excess salinity level of the water and potential electrical problems due to corrosion of cables by the sea water intrusion. Depending on the available funds and the urgency of activities, further action on these issues will be taken.

 

Phase 2: REHABILITATION

We are now moving out of the emergency relief phase and into the much longer-term rehabilitation phase. An overall rehabilitation program coordination infrastructure is being put in place. A main concern is the availability of capable and committed people who can and want to take up responsibility for the great tasks ahead. The Rehabilitation Program will consist of six distinct but very much interlinked projects:

In order to share information, expertise and ideas among the various organizations contributing to tsunami-related efforts in South India and to foster better coordination among NGO's, donor organizations, Government agencies, and volunteers, a Knowledge and Coordination Centre has been established. This Centre, organized and implemented by Auroville, will function as an interactive information platform for the collecting and sharing of knowledge, spreading of best practices and development of consensus on rehabilitation strategies and implementation. A test version of the accompanying website is already up and running. The permanent internet address will soon be announced on the auroville.org-website. A database with all tsunami-related information, searchable by anyone, anytime, anywhere, is being set up. This database will be incorporated in a special intranet, categorizing and disseminating all tsunami-related information among the concerned parties. The aim is to create a coordination and information-sharing model, useable in any future disaster emergency.

A main issue of rehabilitation is providing new shelters to tsunami-affected villages. Auroville has solutions and related training and management models for housing and infrastructural needs, tested and ready for implementation. A group of Auroville architects has created a number of house designs. The first meeting with village elders to evaluate these designs has taken place. The most suitable designs will be built on a special prototype site.

A strategy to facilitate construction of up to 1000 new shelters and accompanying infrastructure is being formulated and villages are being identified. Infrastructural solutions concerning planning, land development, roads, multi-purpose community facilities, electricity and renewable energy, water, rainwater harvesting, waste water treatment, and sanitation are part of this project.

Auroville will be coordinating its training facilities to host vocational training, from tailoring to computer skills, for up to 100 village youths. In addition, a train-the-trainer program will have Auroville handicraft units train volunteers to disseminate their newly-acquired skills to village women.

A group of Auroville mechanics is going out to the fishing villages to assist with repairing boats and motors.

The Trauma Counseling team is going out daily to listen, talk and provide a human touch to the traumatized village residents. To empower a much larger trauma-relieving effort, a group of 80 women, men and youth has been selected and offered an 8-day disaster and trauma counselling training. In order to give special attention to children, each school in Auroville's area of concern is encouraged to appoint one teacher who is offered an intensive 4-day training in order to be able to identify affected children, offer counseling and teach the acquired skills to other teachers. Auroville's Trauma Counselling team will keep on monitoring the situation, offer ongoing training and will establish a library of relevant disaster-trauma related materials.

A Coast Line Afforestation team takes up the responsibility for creating a green and live wall along part of the Coromandel coast . By means of planting a wide variety of salt water tolerant indigenous trees, bushes, creepers and stragglers, the coastline can be better protected from damaging ongoing erosion and the impact of future natural disasters. An important part of the project will be to create awareness in the population about the importance of afforestation, not just to project them from tidal waves, but also to combat salt water intrusion and the further degradation of natural resources.

 

MAIN FACTS AND FIGURES

A detailed Status Report, covering income and expenditure of the Tsunami Relief Centre's activities, can be found in the City Express on www.auroville.org.in.

Received donations

 

Rs.

$

Village Relief

1,70,00,000

389,283

 

 

 

Auroville Beach Relief

23,00,000

52,668

 

 

 

Total

1,93,00,000

441,950

 

Expenditure

 

Rs.

$

Emergency relief camp

2,01,266

4,610

Distribution of food and non-food items

20,23,775

46,342

Cleaning

2,20,560

5,050

Auroville Beach communities relief

7,38,818

16,918

Administration and communication

30,000

687

 

 

 

Total

3,214,419

73,607

 

Relief activities Auroville Beach Communities

 

Rs.

$

Water maintenance

29,645

679

Fence repairs

1,97,900

4,533

House repairs

2,88,303

6,602

Security guards

15,000

343

Personal emergency maintenances

2,07,970

4,762

 

Total

7,38,818

16,919