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Launch of Housing Project for Returnee Families in the North and East with funding from EU, AusAID and SDC

Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, 14 February 2013

14 February 2013, Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka. The new housing recovery project "Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing" was officially launched at a ceremony in Iranapalai village in Puthukudirippu DS Division in Mullaitivu district recently.

This housing project extends the existing partnership by UN-Habitat with the European Union (EU), Government of Australia (AusAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to provide housing construction support to conflict affected families in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

On 14th February 2013, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Her Excellency Robyn Mudie, laid foundation stones for the houses of Mr. Jeyakumar George and Ms. Uthayarasa C. Nirmala, two beneficiaries from Iranapalai village. AusAID contributed AUD 1 Million (USD 985,400) as part of the overall funding of USD 20 Million for this phase of the housing project. The District Secretary of Mullaitivu, Mr.N.Vedanayagam, Acting Director, UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Chris Radford, together with senior officers from the Local Government Administration, AusAID and UN-Habitat participated at the event.

Iranapalai village consists of 417 families who have been affected by the three decades of conflict. It is considered a highly vulnerable village with 78 female-headed families. The main livelihoods include fishing, agriculture, and general labour.

Ms.Uthayarasa C. Nirmala, a beneficiary, is a disabled mother of a two year-old son who undertakes cadjan weaving as her livelihood. Following the foundation stone ceremony at her house, Ms.Nirmala stated that she is grateful to the donors for the funding that would enable her to construct her own permanent house.

The Australian High Commissioner met with the community and discussed the primary needs of the village followed by a special meeting with female-headed family members.

The 30 month project "Improving Living Conditions in Returnee Areas of Sri Lanka through Housing" targets the districts of Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Batticaloa, and will assist 4,000 conflict affected families to reconstruct and repair their damaged houses. It is funded by the European Union, Government of Australia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by UN-Habitat and SDC. Housing construction will be undertaken using a "Home Owner Driven" process, in which owners are directly granted the funds. With technical assistance from UN-Habitat and SDC, beneficiaries contribute their own labour, time and resources and are responsible for managing contractors and purchasing materials.

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