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Habitat Plans to Provide "Core" Homes in Sri Lanka This Month

January 7, 2005

BANGKOK: 7th January 2005: Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka plans to begin building transitional “core” houses before the end January, as reconstruction begins in tsunami-hit communities.

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A child sits in the temporary shelter located at Unier school in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. Several hundred families who lost their homes have sought shelter here. They are given food and medicine through donations from the Red Cross and other NGOs

The first houses would be for homeless families in Batticaloa, on the badly-ravaged east coast where the local affiliate owns a three-acre site. The Batticaloa site could eventually house 80 families. Priority would be given to those who have lost family members or have special needs.

The affiliate will start work using a simplified version of the HFH “core” house design, based on the design used in other areas of Sri Lanka. HFH Sri Lanka homeowners build homes one room at a time. There is the capacity for homeowners to add extensions and improvements as they have savings or the capacity to repay interest-free, no-profit Habitat loans.

The proposed transitional “core” house will involve a permanent structure of one room and a roofed verandah, with sanitary facilities - probably an outside latrine. It would cover a footprint of about 240 sq. ft. The transitional homes are to be built at no cost to the families.

HFH Sri Lanka has ten active affiliates. The four coastal affiliates, Batticaloa, Galle, Moratuwa and Wattala/Ja Ela, were affected. Several homeowners died and many homes were destroyed. One Habitat family from Moratuwa died when the train they were traveling on to Galle was swept away by the tidal waves.

Many affiliate-based staff and volunteers narrowly escaped with their lives. Many are now back to work, some on local clean-ups, clearing out wells and purifying waters. Many are working in conjunction with relief agencies, non-government organizations, churches and civic groups.

On Friday 7th January, leaders of all ten affiliates met to co-ordinate their response plans and to match needs and resources. Specific plans are expected from each affiliate by the middle of next week. Meanwhile, the national office is working to match resources and offers of help from partners, donors and other NGOs with Habitat’s needs.

Habitat’s Asia-Pacific director of volunteer programs Mui Ngah Lee said, “Implementation plans being drawn up include how we can call on volunteers, especially those with recognized disaster-response skills, to help rebuild homes and communities in these affected countries.”

In addition to the transitional “core” house, Habitat’s response will also include building simpler “kit” houses comprising a permanent structure and a roof. Any external/internal walls will be temporary, made of bamboo screening or other similar materials.

Habitat for Humanity plans to provide transitional “core” and “kit” housing for homeless people in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Thailand.

You can help the efforts of the Habitat for Humanity Disaster Response Office by a donation to the Asia Tsunami Response Fund.