The Auroville Tsunami Rehabilitation team has been active since the 26 th of December, 2004, the day the tsunami hit the Asian coasts. During the last seven months a wide range of activities has taken place and many more are planned. The first three months were devoted to immediate emergency relief activities. Most of these activities, like the distribution of food, cooking materials and school materials, providing emergency psychological and physical healthcare and the cleaning of affected villages have come to an end.
The following is a summary of all the projects and activities we are currently busy with and have planned for the next 24 months. If you want to know the full story: before the end of August we will publish a comprehensive and detailed report on all our activities .
Aim and target area of the Tsunami Team
We have made an overall program plan for the next 24 months. Our central aim was and still is to assist communities to quickly rebuild their lives to the level that existed previous to the disaster, or, preferably, to a higher level than that which existed before. To avoid creating imbalances between tsunami-affected villages and indirectly affected villages, we have decided that for selected projects, inland villages will be included in our program as well. Concern, who will fund a large portion of our program, has agreed to this. We are working now with 34 different hamlets or communities, all located along the coastline and in and around Auroville. Not all our projects necessarily cover our full target area.
Paalams : Village representation
In each of these 34 hamlets we will form a so called Paalam , meaning ‘bridge' in Tamil. Each Paalam will consist of village representatives, appointed in consultation with the local Panchayat. To ensure full participation and a need-based approach, all our activities are first introduced and discussed in the monthly Paalam meeting in Auroville. Already in 17 villages the Paalams have been functioning very well for quite some time. The members have attended leadership training programs, information meetings about for example sanitation, legal issues, shelter construction, village infrastructure and many other issues. In 17 other villages Paalams are being organized right now. Additionally, each village will also have its own village-oriented development group, which will meet monthly to discuss development issue sand then carry out appropriate activities.
Currently, the Working Committee is motivating Aurovilians, and especially Tamil Aurovilians, based on the experience with the Kuilapalayam Development Council, to form such a Council also in other neighbouring villages. To avoid duplication, wherever a Development Council is functioning, our team will fully cooperate with this Council.
Funding: donations and partnerships with other organizations
Our projects are partly funded by the generous donations we have received from Indian and foreign donors. We have formed a working partnership with Concern , a large Irish charity with an office in Chennai, who have been and will be financing considerable parts of our Livelihood and Eco-Restoration projects. For other components of our Program we are still negotiating with potential partners, such as United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Knowledge Centre/NGO Coordination/GIS capacity building among other NGOs along the coast.
55 people working
Approximately 55 people, both volunteers and salaried, are directly involved in our activities. These include a dedicated group of rehabilitation workers, program and project coordinators, trainers, teachers, product designers, researchers, forest specialists, accountants and administrators. As more projects are being started, more people will be needed to make effective implementation possible.
To reach our aim, we work in five separate but closely interlinked project fields:
In order to strengthen the general community fabric and stimulate co-operation between villagers, a wide range of activities is being planned, such as: building up the Paalams, night schools, formation of youth groups and women groups and the organisation of twice yearly Bio Region Wide events, such as Women Day or Earth Day. In 11 villages Community Centres have been constructed.
The Engine Repair Service has repaired almost 200 fishing boat engines and is still busy training a group of youths in engine repair and welding. Another group of students from tsunami-affected villages is receiving training in computer software and hardware. Our Educational Loan Scheme is enabling more than one hundred 10+2 standard students to pursue further practical studies. We have started an Enterprise Development program, with the basic aim to form new small sustainable businesses or improve existing ones. Training and production workshops for women, working with waste materials, such as cloth (Tsunamika!), plastics and paper are functioning.
Within two years a total of 1 lakh trees will be planted along the coast in six villages. Three forest-dedicated Auroville nurseries are busy with taking care of the seedlings. This year approx. 15,000 seedlings will be planted, next year the remaining 85,000.
Auroville has been officially appointed as the central point for knowledge resources and NGO-coordination for Villupuram district. Regularly most of the NGO's active in our district meet for coordination of activities and discussion on tsunami-related issues. We are also coordinating our activities with the Tamil Nadu Government Office of the Relief Commissioner and other NGO Coordination Centres along the coast. These include the NGO Coordination & Resource Centre (NCRC) in Nagapattinam, Bhoomika Trust and UNDP in Chennai and Kanniyakumari Rehabilitation Resource Centre in Kanniyakumari.
Shelter and Infrastructure
A total number of 100 temporary shelters have been constructed, 20 more are in process. Auroville based architects have created nine shelter designs, all fitting the dimensional and financial conditions for new shelters. Many meetings have taken place to ensure maximum input and participation in plan making from the future residents. In coordination with the Villupuram District Collector, two villages, Chinnamudaliarchavady Kuppam and Bommaiyapalayam Kuppam, have teamed up with us. Here a maximum of 350 shelters, including infrastructure, will be constructed. However, the residents of both villages have expressed a strong preference to be relocated, whereas the availability of suitable lands to build on is very limited. Until a solution has been found, construction activities will be pending.
If you want more information, have questions or good advice, don't hesitate to call, come to our office or contact us otherwise. Our intention is to inform you regularly about our activities, and more in detail than possible in this summary. For the most comprehensive information, please visit the Auroville Tsunami website: www.auroville.org/tsunami .
Auroville, August 24, 2005
Auroville Tsunami Rehabilitation Project
Aurelec, Auroville , TN 605 101 INDIA
Phone: +91 (413) 262 2184 / 262 2979