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Sri Lanka official trip report- northern area/part 1

This is Ueda, JEN’s Sri Lanka Program Manager from Tokyo Headquarters.  I visited Sri Lanka last October on an on-site inspection trip to survey the local situation.  Allow me to introduce the first half of my two part official trip report. 

On a map, Sri Lanka appears to be a small island.  In actuality, Sri Lanka’s land area is vast, about 80% of Hokkaido.  Hence, travelling in this country proved to be much more difficult than I had initially expected.

First, I visited Puthukkudiyiruppu DS and Maritimepattu DS of Mullativu District, 6 hours to the north by car from the closest major city, Colombo.  According to our local staff, residents of these areas had to escape to camp quickly, so were unable to carry a majority of their possessions, which they buried in the ground.  Some of the scattered living wares were exposed as time passed by, and some were dug up by the residents.  In fact, I witnessed families excavating the ground numerous times.

[Various things were scattered on the ground]

[Destroyed house which has been deserted]

Recently, few houses were constructed in an area where residents were allowed to return to.  These houses, which house several families under the same roof, are very basic and consist of wooden frames, zinc walls and plastic sheets, which were supplied by the UN.  Prior to my visit, I had imagined that many residents currently lead relatively stable lives, as the conflict ended 3 years ago, yet the reality of the situation was different from what I had imagined.  Despite regional differences, in most areas, residents still require emergency support in the form of water, shelter and food. 

[Displaced people are living in huts like this]

[In the absence of a local well, some districts are still dependent on water trucks]

I interviewed a 25 year old woman who returned to this village last August.  She was seven months pregnant at the time of the interview.  According to her, a hospital in Mullativu District had just started operating when residents resumed living in the area.  Yet as its facilities are inadequate, she gave birth in a hospital in the Jaffna District, which is 6 hours by bus.  Health and medical care is another field with a profusion of persistent problems. 

[Interviewed woman]

[A family who returned to the area in August.  They are anxious about their future.]

In the northern part of Sri Lanka, we have been repairing and cleaning wells destroyed in the conflict.  I could see the community workers engaging in the repair and cleaning work in cooperation with local residents.

JEN’s wells have unique details.  For example, in order to make their insides safer to clean, block-projections are constructed, so that it is possible to descend utilizing these stair-like features in a swift yet safe manner, in contrast to the conventional rope-only method.


[Community worker and JEN staff.  They are talking about this well]

[He is going down the well using the projecting blocks and a rope]

(continued in part 2)

November 29, 2012 in South Sudan |