By Latheef Farook –
In the most devastating natural disaster ever to strike the island, ferocious and frenzied tsunami waves snatched away thousands of lives, dismembered thousands of families, wiped out communities, razed down buildings, swallowed villages, cities, and left behind an unprecedented trail of destruction never heard of in the country’s history.
It all happened within around twenty minutes, and that too in broad day light on 26 December 2005, when merciless killer waves which were reported to have originated from an underwater volcanic eruption in the seas off Indonesia wrecked hundreds of thousands of lives even before they could realize what was happening. Those who survived saw their loved ones,life-time earnings and belongings disappear in front of their eyes.
These waves of destruction did not discriminate on the basis of race, caste, religion, colour, language or any such artificial barriers. Instead, proving that nature doesn’t pick and choose to destroy, these waves from the very same sea which generously provided them livelihood for generations, rose and wiped out all alike without any discrimination. The waves disappeared as fast as they appeared leaving the shocked survivors speechless and dumbfounded. Battered and beaten in the raging waters, the dead and the dying, maimed and mutilated were everywhere with crushed and broken limbs amidst fallen trees and crashing buildings.
During the first few post-tsunami days and weeks, there was an unparalleled outpouring of support and sympathy for the victims. In their hour of peril, thousands of compassionate people rushed to their aid. Spontaneous goodwill poured forth overwhelmingly when people from all communities and from all walks of life rushed to help the victims. In Colombo, many left everything and rushed with whatever food, water and clothes they could gather to help the victims everywhere. It was highly commendable that in doing so they rose above race, religion, ethnicity, religion and other considerations. Individuals who emptied their pockets and the civil organizations that rushed to the scene of disaster with whatever possible aid also restored the fast- fading faith in humanity.
Individuals and social organizations played a timely and more effective role than the government and bureaucracy that was characterized by red tape, lethargy and discrimination. They demonstrated that compassion and human kindness still remain alive among the average people though politicians play politics and divide the communities. Though the tsunami brought together the warring and divided communities, yet it was a short-lived dream as conflict broke out within a year.
Some estimated the death toll to be around 40,000 while others put the number much higher. No one knows for sure how many perished. According to some reports a total of 35,322 people belonging to 14 districts were killed, while 516,150 people were displaced, 65,275 houses completely damaged and 38,561 houses partially damaged. The total estimated damage stood at US$ 1.5 billion.
Muslims in the south, south east and the east coast were the worst affected and, according to some estimates, the Muslim community lost one percent of their total population in the island. They, too, lost their loved ones and some of them even saw their kith and kin snatched and tossed by killer waves into the mighty ocean never to be seen again. They also saw how their homes, lifetime earnings and belongings were destroyed and even the source of their livelihood shattered within minutes. Muslims in the east complained that they were discriminated and ignored in the distribution of tsunami aid from the very beginning by the government, donors, NGOs and all others involved.
Most of the coastal areas were affected and the scene of the worst carnage was the beach near Peraliya along the West Coast where around 1,500 perished in the Matara-bound Ruhunu Kumari train. However, by sheer scale of destruction to life and property, Ampara district was the worst affected. According to the local media in the Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee areas around 37,000 Muslim families were affected, 16,355 houses completely destroyed, 10,801 houses partially damaged, 138 mosques, 36 schools and eight hospitals destroyed and damaged.
In the Ampara district area alone 20,980 Muslim families were affected and 11,376 houses completely destroyed and 5,970 houses partly damaged besides destruction to 23 mosques, 20 schools and four hospitals. More than 11,000 people died in the coastal area between Neelavani and Pottuvil and 95 percent of them were from the six villages of Marudhamunai, Pandiruppu, Kalmunai, Kalmunaikudy, Sainthamaruthu and Karaitivu. More than 30,000 survivors were treated in the hospitals and more than 200,000 were displaced.
President Kumaratunga, who was in London, rushed home, visited some of these affected areas in the east and assured the helpless and voiceless victims that their houses would be rebuilt within six months. But as subsequently proved, these promises disappeared in the same way of the tsunami waves, despite billions of rupees given by countries, organizations and individuals to help tsunami victims.
About eleven thousand Muslim families lived in the Hambantota district and eighty percent of them were engaged in fishing. Only around 200 families were given temporary shelter in the land adjoining Dharma Kabir Mosque with the assistance of several international volunteer organizations. Some refugees said that “even a month-and-a-half after the tsunami, they only received 3.500 kg of rice and 1.150 kg of sugar and nothing else. Only fifty percent of the displaced were provided with dry rations through stamps, and that too for only three weeks. They were not even provided basic facilities.
A month-and-a-half after the tsunami, I visited the affected areas only to realise the full scale of the destruction and words couldn’t describe the sufferings of survivors most of whom were still in a state of shock. The predominantly Muslim town of Hambantota, too, was a scene of devastation. According to Dharma Kabir Mosque officials, the government estimate on casualty figures there was 596 Muslims dead and 442 reported missing. This did not reflect the actual death toll as more Muslims died and were missing and there were daily complaints about missing persons.
Even after six weeks, the East remained a virtually neglected area. Attributing this to deliberate discrimination even during times of disaster, many pointed out that no reason could justify neglecting a region burdened with so much human suffering and misery. The traumatized and frustrated survivors in the east were seething with anger with the government, state agencies, politicians and even foreign donors for their indifference towards their unprecedented sufferings. They complained that nothing was done to alleviate their sufferings while foundation stones were laid on a daily basis for various projects to improve the lot of those affected in the South.
Fed up with the government for denying them tsunami aid, thousands of Muslims demonstrated in the mosque grounds in a number of villages in and around Kalmunai. One such demonstration was in Maruthamunai, 35 kilometres south of Batticaloa, where people blocked the main highway to Kalmunai and protested against the Government for not helping them. Entire coastal suburbs of this densely- populated Muslim town, had been flattened by the surging sea.
Demonstrations were organized by local mosques and some of the organizers accused their ministers of filling their pockets and abandoning them, and queried whether the government had decided to leave them permanently homeless. “This is our fourth protest. But the government is unmoved. The JVP came here in its private capacity and, together with Muslim religious and social organizations, spent its own party funds to clean up the debris and build us temporary shelters. ” they said. “Where are the state agencies, politicians and the much-talked-about relief assistance? Massive aid started flowing into the country from the first few days but we are yet to receive even a cup of tea, “said a middle-aged man who lost his entire family on the beach front of Maruthamunai village.
Even top government officials admitted that only around 30 to 35 percent of the relief items were utilized while victims continued to languish in refugee camps forcing Japanese special envoy Yasushi Akashi to emphasize the need to distribute aid in an equitable, transparent and accountable manner without any corruption or inefficiency. Speaking to survivors in villages such as Akbar Town, 40 House Scheme and Islamabad in Kalmunai, I realized the growing anger at all levels, accusing the government of openly discriminating against them and concentrating relief and rehabilitation activities in the south.
“We do agree that other areas devastated by the tsunami need to be helped, but why neglect the worst affected east coast villages, “asked villagers who said they managed to overcome the early days only due to the generous Muslim individuals and Muslim organizations from the rest of the country who rushed there with food and clothing given both to Muslims and Tamils alike. Losing almost everything, they found shelter with relatives and friends and in temporary refugee camps, but they didn’t want to be a burden on anyone and were impatient to restart their lives.
“Everyday we see Sinhalese politicians in the government laying foundations in the south to help the people who were affected by the tsunami. But why discriminate against Muslims? Nothing has come our way since the sea destroyed our lives”, said a spokesman for the Sainthamaruthu Mosque Trustee Board.
They asked “what has happened to the much-talked-about and widely-publicized aid?” Some estimates put the figure during the third anniversary of the tsunami, at three billion US dollars, that flowed into the country in the form of grants and donations from abroad and from local sources. The affected people fast lost confidence in their own politicians, one of whom was prevented from addressing a gathering in a mosque at Sainthamaruthu.
While foreign leaders were taken to the south, none of them visited the most affected areas in the east. For example, the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Hambantota and Trincomalee; the government of the Netherlands promised to help rebuild Galle city and a sum of Euro 100,000, allocated for the master plan, was handed over to the Southern Province Governor. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyob Erdogan laid the foundation stone for a 500-unit housing project at Midigama, Matara, and the government pledged to restore the day to day life of the people of Matara, restructure the Matara town and also initiate resettlement schemes in Hambantota.
But no attention was paid to develop the worst affected east coast villages which were areas predominantly occupied by Muslims and, leaving alone foreign dignitaries, even government officials from Ampara failed to visit these areas in and around Kalmunai. Even the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress accused the government of favoring the south. The Coordinating Centre for Relief and Rehabilitation (CCRR), stated that the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development failed to deal with the importance of the Muslim dimension as they failed to include Muslim representation in the relief, rehabilitation and development process in the tsunami-affected areas in keeping with the spirit of the Tokyo Declaration. This came amidst warnings by the World Bank coordinator in the reconstruction process, Alastair McKechnie, that political tension is likely to increase in Sri Lanka if aid is not distributed equitably.
Meanwhile the government and the LTTE started discussing a mechanism to deal with relief and rehabilitation efforts and representatives of foreign counties visited the north and held discussions with the LTTE. But nobody, including Muslim parliamentarians from the east, bothered about the sufferings of the Muslims there. The government failed to involve Muslims in any of these discussions that should have been attended by affected people and not the officials who knew nothing about their sufferings. Yasushi Akashi stated in Colombo that he would be happy to see the government and LTTE working on a joint distribution mechanism with ‘some Muslim’ participation. This was the situation in the east coast in February 2005.
Six months after the tsunami, Muslim families in Kinniya, the most affected area in the Trincomalee district with around 1800 families displaced, found that around 50 acres of land allocated for resettling them in Kinniya were being encroached by a group of 52 families. Supported by an NGO, they started putting up permanent houses, schools, wells and other facilities, including a cemetery, alarming the Muslims who feared that they would be relocated far away from the sea and make it difficult to continue with their fishing activities.
While tsunami victims were languishing in appalling conditions in inhospitable temporary shelters all over the island, there began to emerge report after report of corruption highlighting to what extent human beings could descend in exploiting even human misery and sufferings for their own benefit.
According to a report by the Auditor-General, S.C. Mayadunne, “government officials misspent or misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tsunami aid after failing to follow instructions. Officials gave millions of rupees in tsunami assistance to thousands of families who were not directly affected while others displaced by the tsunami did not even get the rations they were entitled to”.
Citing an example a report “On flaws in post-tsunami aid distribution and accounting” presented to parliament by S.C. Mayadunne stated that “though only 599 families were directly affected, around 16,000 families were paid 73.395 million rupees ($723,460) worth of aid in the divisional secretariat of Negombo which was relatively unscathed by the tsunami. Hundreds of millions of rupees worth of aid collected locally by government agencies was still sitting in bank accounts even around July 2005, and in some cases, had been invested in fixed deposits”.Mayadunne’s report which provided details of corruption, including the disappearance Mayadunne’s report which provided details of corruption, including the disappearance materials, pointed out that even by the end of July, seven months after the tsunami, only a fraction of pledged foreign aid was spent on intended key sectors.
Some other reports pointed out that Sri Lanka received 3.2 billion dollars in foreign aid pledges but how much of that was received is not known. The state Auditor-General, in September 2005, noted that out of 1.16 billion dollars committed by donors only 13.5 percent had been spent. Since then, there has been no fresh government audit. Disclosing further details about the misuse of funds Lalith de Kauwe, Chairman of the Association of Sri Lankan Lawyers in the UK (ASLLUK) Tsunami Appeal, charged that a huge amount of funds donated by a generous British public was still lying unused in UK banks. Even after two years, reports of corruption continue to emerge unabated. An agency report, citing official records, pointed out during early 2007 that corruption and ethnic violence were blocking a flood of foreign aid for Sri Lanka’s tsunami survivors. Out of the promised aid, it was not clear how much was received.
In the absence of proper account-keeping, many believe that only a fraction of the aid actually went to the real victims and it was impossible to track down what happened to the cash. Official figures are often contradictory, but even the state admits only about half of the estimated 100,000 damaged or destroyed homes have been rebuilt as the country marked the tragedy’s second anniversary.
“God only knows whether the money was spent on tsunami victims or anybody else! The government is now accusing non-governmental organizations for the slow progress and it is like the pot calling the kettle black, and there has been large-scale corruption in delivering aid,” said a top TEFREN executive who pointed out that local and international charities, numbering nearly 400, were flooded with donations and overwhelmed by the unprecedented funding while many NGOs wasted the money.
“Some who were not even affected by the tsunami got houses. Some got two or three boats while others did not get any. They put too much emphasis on urgency and did not adhere to accounting standards. The tsunami in many ways was a blessing in disguise to the government. The inflow of aid saw local currency appreciate by over five percent while the state enjoyed both debt forgiveness and a moratorium on repayments.
Under the headline “Merry times for tsunami racketeers” this is what a report by Shamindra Ferdinando in the “Island” of 26 December 2006 said, “Even years after the tsunami, the government is yet to punish State officials accountable for waste, corruption and negligence in the aftermath of the unprecedented natural disaster.
“Inquiries reveal that the government has failed to initiate action against them despite clear evidence of wasteful expenditure on a large scale. Politicians have connived with officials to help their supporters play out funds and in some cases, further the interests of their associates. They have profited from crooked deals involving crooked means, hiring of vehicles and compensation for damaged and destroyed houses.
“The ruling coalition has ignored an interim report by the Auditor General’s Department, which details a series of irregularities. The report has dealt with questionable transactions between December 26, 2004 and June 30, 2005. It is critical of lapses on the part of the General Treasury, Central Bank and the Customs. Under a section titled Limitation on Procuring Information for Audit, the Auditor General (AG) has said that the Central Bank ignored a call to provide information on tsunami funds. The AG’s Department has been particularly harsh on several Divisional Secretariats in the East and South. This report is gathering dust.The report called for an in-depth police investigation. Unfortunately, the government ignored that call, and thereby allowed a group of corrupt officials and their political masters to go scot free.”
A seminar on “Tsunami Recovery and Rehabilitation” disclosed around early 2007 that “the South has been over-supplied with 6,000 houses while the housing needs in the North and East had been completed only up to 22% and 43%, respectively” . Highlighting how the Muslims were ignored by the government, M.I.M. Mohideen had this to say on 20 March 2006 in an article in the “Island” under the title “Muslim tsunami victims face discrimination in the East.”
It is widely claimed that the government has not treated the Muslim tsunami victims fairly. According to statistics maintained by the Task Force to Rebuild the Nation (TAFREN) not a single house was built throughout 2005 to resettle those Muslim tsunami victims within the 200 meter area from the sea in the Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee Districts in the Eastern Province.
The situation in the South is different. In Hambantota, the need is only 1,057 houses. But the donors have allocated 4,852 houses. Later it was disclosed that the requirement was 3,100 houses but 6,300 had been built by the end of the third tsunami anniversary. A recent internal memo said that the number of house donors assigned was 11 times more than what was required within Hambantota. This happened while thousands of Muslim tsunami victims in the Eastern Province languished in temporary camps without sufficient food, medicines and other basic facilities. Muslims who tried to resettle in their own lands received threats from the government authorities and were even deprived of their fundamental human rights.
In the three districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee 22,644 houses needed to be reconstructed. In Batticaloa 4,426 houses and in Ampara, the worst affected district, the need was for 12,481. While construction commenced on 1,200 houses in Ampara, in Batticaloa only 511 units were under construction, according to figures maintained by TAFREN and the Housing Ministry.
Ampara is a glaring example of how ineffective institutions, political rivalries and misinformation can make a mockery of disaster management. Not a single house was built within the 200 meters from the sea in the coastal Muslim areas of Maruthamunai, Kalmunai, Sainthamaruthu, Ninthavur, Oluvil, Addalachchenai, Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil.
In the then LTTE-controlled areas of Batticaloa District, the TRO (Tamil Rehabilitation Organization), a LTTE-backed organization, channelled funds to resettle the affected Tamil people. But Kattankudy’s coastal villages such as New Kattankudy, Palamunai and other Muslim areas remained untouched even around the latter part of 2007.
Mutur, Kinniya, Kuchchaveli, Pulmoddai and Trincomalee towns are the Divisional Secretariat Divisions in the Trincomalee District where thousands of Muslims were affected. Political confusion greatly contributed to the mismanagement of relief. LTTE-held areas in the district came under LTTE-backed relief and resettlement programmes, but Muslim areas continued to suffer without adequate infrastructure development.
According to a survey conducted by the Muslim Reconstruction and Resettlement Organization (MRRO) which visited each and every family in the tsunami-affected Muslim areas in the Eastern Province to assess the damages to houses, 8,000 tsunami survivors have complained to the Disaster Relief Monitoring Unit (DRMU) of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka about the delay and the violation of their rights.
Emphasizing the urgent need for special attention to the east coast, in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, Prof. M. A. Nuhman of Peradeniya University, who hails from Kalmunai, said that the most affected six villages — Maruthamunai, Pandiruppu, Kalmunai, Kalmunaikudy, Sainthamaruthu and Karaitivu — are located in a ten square kilometer area between the beach and the main Kalmunai road. Each of these covered an average area of about two kilometers and had a population of around 30,000. These are some of the most densely populated areas in the island.
With no more land in the area for expansion, people could not move into adjoining equally-crowded Tamil areas, as an inch of land is more precious than even a kilo of gold. And those who wished to move out to places such as Ampara town have been reluctant to do so as they were not welcome there due to ethnic reasons and their inability to register or transfer deeds.
As a result people were forced to build houses closer to the shore especially in the Muslim villages of Maruthamunai, Kalmunaikudi and Sainthamaruthu. These were the houses that were completely wiped out by the waves, and their occupants killed. Shortages of land and population density have been two main burning problems and a source of ethnic friction in the Kalmunai area.
The situation in the east did not improve even two years after the tsunami. The outgoing UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, slammed Sri Lanka’s warring parties, the government and the LTTE, for the violence that had slowed rebuilding after the tsunami. “No one could have prevented the tsunami’s wave of destruction. But together we can stem the tide of conflict, which threatens once again to engulf the people of Sri Lanka,” said Mr. Annan who, in contrast, praised Indonesia for the spirit of solidarity in rebuilding the tsunami-affected areas. “In Sri Lanka, that spirit has not been sustained.”
With no sign of any progress, tsunami victims from Maruthamunai, a small and densely-populated area, a district totally wiped out by tsunami waves, began a three-day sit-in protest in early 2007 against the indifference of the authorities to solve their housing problems.
They blocked the Batticaloa-Kalmunai Road, demanding that the authorities fill and build houses for them in a ten-acre paddy land in Mettuwattai, an area adjacent to Maruthamunai where tsunami waves killed more than 2,800 people and rendered more than 4200 families homeless. The protestors claimed that despite this very high scale of loss of lives and destruction, the government has failed to build a single house. The 192 housing units so far built are the work of a private company. They called off their protest only after Ampara District Secretary, Sunil Kannangara, assured them that they would be given permanent houses before the end of this year.
The situation remained unchanged. The Housing and Common Amenities Minister Mrs. Ferial Ashraff charged on 30 May 2007 that more than 6,000 tsunami victims in Kalmunai were still living in tents. Adding to their misery, water and power supplies to these tents were disconnected due to non-payment of an outstanding sum of Rs 367 million. She pointed out that all the houses along the coast from Nintavur to Kalmunai had been completely destroyed rendering 4,672 families homeless. So far 1431 houses were rebuilt despite some NGOs signing agreement with RADA to rebuild all houses destroyed. Even these houses were not provided with basic facilities.According to her, President Mahinda Rajapakse promised to build 1,650 houses for the people of Sainthamaruthu, Kalmunai, Karathivu and Marudamunai but up to date only 80 houses had been built in Kalmunai.
Meanwhile a survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) revealed alarming details of the social cost of the tsunami. According to the survey, around 11% of households experienced someone committing suicide because of the tsunami.It also revealed that 30% cent of households claimed to have children who are yet to restart schooling after the tsunami. The problem is slightly more pronounced in the conflict-affected Eastern Province. It was also found that child labour is one reason for reduced school attendance with income recovery seemingly having a bearing on restarting schooling after the tsunami.
It was also found that a few households reported experiencing more sleeping difficulties, and more children having nightmares compared to pre-tsunami levels. In addition, a large number of households have stated that some members had experienced deterioration of physical health after the tsunami. A third of the households have been offered or given counseling for distress with the percentage of households receiving counseling comparably higher in the Eastern Province.
The often-raised question is, “Will the government and the bureaucracy which failed to distribute aid to tsunami-affected Muslims ever share the island’s resources with them?”. The answer is that they do not appear to care “a damn” about the Muslims.
Summing up the situation, a compassionate person from the majority had this to state in his column in a local daily:
“It is true that we did rise to the occasion, but sadly it is also true that we folded up even faster than it took us to stand tall. This is why at 9.30 a.m. on December 26, if we mourn anything, we should mourn the tragic fact that we could not respond adequately as citizens, as fellow human beings.
“Perhaps we should all go to the beach, if not to show gratitude, to lament. Let us, when we do this, or whatever else we find ourselves doing at that most inauspicious time, reflect on the fact that in this Buddhist country there is a thing called karma pala, that while some things are bad, among the worst is the intent to prey on misery, and that such transgressions have a way of constructing appropriate punishments. I suggest, humbly, that we recognise in our blood streams, in our heartbeats and our sinews the sad truth that we have failed and hope that this recognition generates in all of us the first seeds of resolve that allows us to do better. Let us resolve to rectify our errors and truly emerge as a people worthy of a nation, simply by developing the faculty of sympathy and gathering the strength to move forward, not alone but with each and everyone left behind by the tsunami waves.”
With the outbreak of the undeclared war between the government and the LTTE in the aftermath of the Mavil Aru water crisis, the pathetic plight, especially of Muslim tsunami victims, was forgotten. All work in the North and East virtually came to a halt by August 2006 with the outbreak of violence between the government and the LTTE. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a vast majority of projects had been suspended and funds were held in recovery accounts to resume work once the ground situation improved. But the continuous fighting in the east turned tsunami recovery operations to relief programmes for Internally Displaced Persons, especially from July 2006 to July 2007.
As the island observed the third anniversary of this catastrophe in December 2007 media reports pointed out that thousands of tsunami victims were still living in makeshift camps and at least 16,791 housing units were still to be completed though the authorities claimed that they had built more housing units than required. According to official figures 119,092 housing units were built and this figure, according to some reports, is 20,000 units more than the required number. Some estimates put the families still awaiting permanent shelter at 12,900.
Many who were awaiting aid said that they didn’t know where the aid money went but they were still living in single room wooden houses. According to one report, money was feverishly transferred not only to government establishments, but also to accounts of individuals, companies and charity organisations; so much so that a report by The Tsunami Evaluation coalition (TEC), under former US President Bill Clinton, suggested that Sri Lanka was over-aided and the island should be the best and the most efficiently reconstructed.
Sri Lanka’s deputy executive director of the anti-graft organisation Rukshana Nanayakkara said: “it was almost impossible to find out what happened to the cash. According to an initial government audit only 13 percent of the aid was spent during the first year of reconstruction, but since then there has been no formal examination of accounts.” Hundreds of tsunami survivors had complained to the graft buster against local and international aid agencies. He added that, “there has been no proper accounts maintained on the aid money and we believe that only a fraction of the aid trickled down to the real victims”.
Writing in the December-January issue of the monthly news magazine “MONTAGE” Shanthi Sachithanandam had this to say: “The government’s policy was weak, and it’s coordination extremely poor, amply demonstrated by the mix up of statistical information that it provided. From the outset, it took the responsibility to provide the list of beneficiaries for all the projects. Corruption and inefficient systems combined to make this process a veritable nightmare for the donor agencies.
“Politicians interfered everywhere and the then Minister of Housing and Construction Mrs Ferial Ashraff once stated at Matara that ‘district development activities in most areas failed to make headway due to lack of cooperation between political and administrative authorities.’ From selection and classification of beneficiaries and awarding contracts for sand-mining, to provision of land for the relocation of families from the buffer zone, everything became politically controversial. Provision of land for relocation was delayed for more than one year in many areas and this was specially so in the areas where the Sinhalese and Muslim communities lived.
“Hence the authorities were continuing to inquire into such conflicts and recasting their beneficiary list endlessly. The World Bank concluded in one of its reports that 10-15% of registered beneficiaries were doubtful cases, either not entitled to any assistance or registered unduly as fully damaged. As a result, the donors began to independently verify the lists given by the government before starting the first payment.
“These processes created inordinate delays. As the funds brought in by many of the I/NGOs were tied to particular activities to be carried out within strict time frames, many of them pulled back their funds. The Ministry of Finance, without proper analysis of the cause of the delays, made the situation worse by bringing strict deadlines for the completion of the remittances of instalments of the phase in operation. A large number of beneficiaries lost out on what was due as the second and third instalments due to this directive. Having repeatedly begged the government authorities to speed up the process of the preparation of beneficiary lists, the donor agencies could only stand aghast.Today, three years after the tsunami, there are hundreds of families still in their temporary shelters waiting for their houses. Even though ample resources were available, the government could not deliver an effective programme that was prompt on decision-making, facilitated the contribution of all sectors, coordinated for efficient use of resources and ensured fair play.”