Tamilnadu Tsunami Relief Initiative - a voluntary civil society network
Update #11 | Tuesday, March 29, 2005 5:24 PM

1. Latest Tsunami Warning Withdrawn
2. What is Happening in the Affected Areas - Note by Ram, Chief, Samanvaya
3. Updates on Long Term Work - from the TTRI follow-up meeting on 25th March 2005
4. Job and Volunteer Needs for Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Work
5. Contacts
1. Tsunami Warning Withdrawn
The Centre Government and State Government of Tamilnadu have withdrawn the warning for tsunami in the aftermath of the earthquake in the coast of Indonesia, on the night of 28th March 2005. However, the aftershocks and tremors of the Dec. 04 earthquake in the same region, and the recent quake has highlighted the fact that there could be further quakes.

2. What is Happening in the Tsunami Affected Areas?
Three months after the Tsunami waves caused damage to the coastline of Tamilnadu, the relief work is still on. Only this last week, the government has announced compensation for the agricultural lands lost in the tsunami. A paltry sum of Rs. 8,000/- per acre has been announced, this too only for the lands that had a standing crop in it (which would be determined through government survey records). This is unfortunate both in the amount and its by-laws, the amount in no way would compensate the farmer for his current loss and with no indication as to what would be long term implications, it is not clear as to how the government proposes to re-claim the land and what kind of support the farmer can expect. And to the farmers who had left their lands fallow for this cropping season, this is like saying, 'tough luck' and let him fend for himself. After the long procrastination on the compensation for fishermen for purchase of nets and boats, only now the farmers (who need time-bound remedies) have appeared on the screens of the government relief operation. However, some collectorates without much government direction on their own have tried to help some NGOs in the field.

Meanwhile, there are still complaints from many villages where the government machinery has not reached at all. Koonimedu village in the East Coast Road, according to one regular visitor to this place, has received hardly any support so far. This village on the ECR, a few kilometres before Pondicherry in the Vilupuram District, had lost 22 lives in the tsunami. The sad case is that of the village school located about 400 mts. from the sea. Though the school building has not been affected at all and is intact, it was sealed off in the initial days by government officials as not safe for usage. However, this still remains and the teachers and students are currently cramped in a small makeshift shelter that serves as a single classroom for all the classes. There are many remote villages from where we still get to hear that there is not adequate relief material available.

There are also reports of NGOs (and in some cases even funding agencies) not having adequate manpower to execute the kind of work to which they have committed themselves. Many such organisations now would realise that they perhaps cannot handle the long term emerging situation. As it happened in Gujarat after the Bhuj earthquake, the next couple of months could see the slow withdrawal of many groups and organisations. There is also a lack of adequate skilled manpower, particularly to work with agricultural communities and other non-fishing groups. Volunteers who were rather keen in the early days have all but disappeared currently. The coming months when the heat goes up and the life gets unbearable in the affected areas (particularly under the absurd government-promoted temporary shelters), there would be need for more enthusiastic volunteers.

There have been many stories in the past few weeks regarding the positive and negative sides of the native community based institutions. Many NGOs being exposed to the fishermen kula Panchayat for the first time have come to admire and vouch by the loyalty and commitment to this traditional community institutions. But, there are others who point out that there need to be a very objective view of these institutions as in some places they are rather obstinate and even detrimental to the relief workers. However may be the case, this recognition of the traditional Panchayat as a native institution of strength and political force to reckon with is yet another learning from this tsunami. Only couple of years back, the government of Tamilnadu (acting under the instructions of a court judgement that declared all such native institutions as unconstitutional based on a few stray instances) had tried disbanding such institutions. Some Panchayat leaders like Ms. Manimegalai of Poompuhar too have done exemplary work in leading the revival of normal work in their village.

Though large scale fishing has not commenced (and after the alert of yesterday it may be further delayed), there have been reports that the catch in the shallow water along the coast (within 3 kms. from the coast) frequented by the catamarams have considerably come down since the tsunami. If this is due to some ecological changes in the underwater life in the sea, this needs to be explored and ways and means of changing this situation worked out immediately. Otherwise, there would be more disturbance amongst the fishing communities in the coming days. Some people have also pointed out at the possible outcome of over fishing because of too many boats suddenly entering the sea made possible by generous donors who did not do the basic arithmetic of how many boats were really lost in any village. Many observers have noted with dismay how some donor agencies and NGOs have boosted up the number of boats required in a village just to get more funds from international funding groups. Few institutions such as the Ramakrishna Mission that have made it a policy to make a detailed survey of the pattern of ownership before distributing boats to the fishing community.

chief, Samanvaya
29th March 2005

3. Updates on Long Term Work as reported in the TTRI follow-up meeting on 25th March 2005
People Present:
Mrs. Lakshmi, Mrs. Angelica, Mrs. Shanthi Krishna of sankashti Foundation, Mr. Nagesh Volunteer of Ramakrishna Mission, Mr. A.L. Rangarajan representing RIM (Rejuvenate India Movement), Exnora and ILP, Mr. Annamalai of Gandhi Study Centre, Mr. Karthik Venkatesh and Mr. Balamurugan of CIOSA Network, Mr. Ram (presenting work of CCD, GSS and others) and Mrs. Rama of Samanvaya.

Karthik Venkatesh on CIOSA's role:
- CIOSA has decided to withdraw from the active tsunami relief and rehabilitation work as it is unable to cope with its existing programmes and the tsunami work simultaneously
- the funds collected by CIOSA to the tune of Rs. 4 lakhs has been distributed amongst 11 NGOs involved in tsunami relief
- CIOSA has organised couple of counseling workshops for NGOs on basic counseling techniques in which about 30 NGO representatives participated
- the counseling material translated into Tamil by CIOSA is being used by various NGOs including the Christian Council
- the volunteers who are getting in touch with CIOSA are being redirected to other agencies

Shanthi Krishna on Sankashti Foundation:
- the Foundation has been constituted and registered as a public charitable trust
- the Foundation will have IT clearance in the next few weeks
- it would concentrate on adopting and rebuilding village schools in the tsunami affected areas
- it is also interested in providing support for students of age 3 -15 rendered helpless due to the tsunami and seeks information on any such cases from organisations involved in the relief and rehabilitation work

Nagesh on the work carried out by Sri Ramakrishna Math and Mission:
- the Mission has been involved in the relief efforts from the day the tsunami affected the coast when it provided immediate food and clothing needs for the fishermen; it had also provided accommodation to the fishermen during the initial days
- the mission also had provided continuous medical help through medical camp in many areas
- it has provided domestic needs including utensils and other needs for more than 7000 families in Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Chennai during the first couple of weeks
- since the initial days it has stopped distributing materials as it realised the glut in the relief materials
- currently the mission is concentrating on providing help for the fishermen to revive their livelihood by helping them to procure fishing nets and boats
- the mission has placed an order for 340 fibre boats in Kanyakumari, Nagarcoil and Chennai to replace the boats lost. Wherever there are existing boats or catumarams to be repaired, these are also being undertaken by groups supported by the mission
- he mentioned how the fishermen have very specific requirements and do not accept all boats, some of the issues include the need for the boats to be of certain horse power range, brand of engine for which there are ready spares and repair available in their areas, the kind of boats that are easy to navigate, etc.
- the mission has made it a policy to only provide boats for groups (as it existed earlier) rather than individuals, this is to avoid distribution of too many boats in a single location
- the mission has continuous contact with the local panchayat, collectorate and the fisheries department
- in Vadakkumudasalodai village in cuddalore district, the mission has purchased 10 acres of land about 1 km. from the earlier village location, this land would be distributed and registered in the name of 104 families from the village which have been affected and which need permanent housing to be constructed. Once the government permission is obtained, the construction of houses will commence in the new location.

Lakshmi (she has been independently helping fishermen villages along the East Coast Road):
- the health of the fishermen is going down as their staple diet (fish) has not been available for them since the tsunami
- while the government is still vacillating about the compensation, the waiting game is making the fishermen restless and angry with the government and everyone
- the promotion of women's SHGs and alternate employment among women by NGOs is also viewed with suspicion by some fishermen, they feel that if the women get comfortable doing tailoring and other home based occupations, they may not take part in the more physically demanding fish trading once the fishing activity commences
- the kula Panchayat has decided that it would go on a large scale protest if the government does not make up its mind about the permanent settlement and boats compensation soon enough
- Koonimedu on the ECR is a ghost village with absolutely no relief available thus far
- Alaikuppam is another village with a large fishing community (about 700 families) where no relief material has reached
- it is also disturbing to hear from many fishermen who have ventured into the sea, that the catch has come down in the shallow waters as the underwater life forms (which attract fish) have reduced, and there are large sand dunes underwater; small fishermen cannot venture too far into the sea and any way the trawlers carry away all the big catch in deep sea; ecological restoration of the balance in the underwater life forms has to be initiated

Angelika (she has been directing funds from Germany directly to fishing communities along the ECR where she lives):
- Rs. 13 lakhs money disbursed for boats and nets for different fishing communities so far
- she has mobilised and sent support for institutions and organisations genuinely involved in relief and rehabilitation work such as the Sarada Ashram, Ulundurpet (doing work in the Cuddalore District)
- she has also been visiting and helping the villagers in Koonimedu in Villupuram District; it was decided at this point that Shanthi Krishna through the Sankashti Foundation would try and help in the revival of the educational activities in the school at Koonimedu
- she is also helping the Ekkikuppam people with building of toilets for their houses
- she opined that it would be best to support individual volunteers who want to work with specific village communities rather than organisations that look at long term involvement in a village
- she also mentioned about some villages where community kitchens have been set up. At this point Nagesh mentioned about the villages where community kitchens based in public places and temples have been functioning successfully in many parts

Rangarajan (heads the RIM work in the tsunami hit areas and also advises other agencies including ILP and Exnora):
- RIM is working with the network of NGOs formed in the early days of the TTRI initiative, about 8 of the 14 NGOs based in Tiruvarur continue to work together with advise and support from RIM
- Round Table India has made a Rs. 6 Crore project to reconstruct schools in any of the villages in the affected areas, they would consider the cases in collaboration with the Directorate of Schools and will repair the schools during the summer holidays (which is normally between mid-April and June)
- RIM will be involved in long term rehabilitation work in 10 villages in the tarangambadi taluk in nagapattinam district, out of which 6 fishing villages and 4 are agricultural villages
- as there are long term issues in agricultural villages, there needs to be a long term commitment from the NGO involved
- 40% victims of the tsunami are non-fishing communities, this is often not factored in by those who are involved in the relief work
- RIM is looking at relief measure in different phases, it is supported by an Ireland based funding agency GOAL, in all 841 families have been identified and surveyed
- family relief packages worth Rs. 3500/- each, to the tune of Rs. 35 lakhs have been distributed
- he highlighted a case where the fishermen through their community Panchayat have stalled the distribution of relief material to non-fishing communities
- in the rehabilitation phase, RIM will be involved in education, providing special bridge course for school dropouts in the fishing villages where the dropout rate is high
- RIM will also provide awareness on disaster management for vulnerability groups in the villages (RIM is organising a national level seminar on disaster management in April 19-20 in Chennai)
- it would also provide infrastructure and other supplementary help on a case to case basis to educational institutions
- it would also work on providing livelihood through community enterprises of CBOs
- RIM would work on promoting alternate livelihood through women's SHGs in villages as a supplementary income
- it would also be involved in providing eGovernance in villages and early disaster warning system through IT
- RIM will be involved for the relief and rehabilitation activity in the next 2 years, about 5 youth from the villages have been identified to lead the operations, they will be provided training and orientation over a 2 day programme in Chennai on the 1st and 2nd of April
- India Literacy Programme (ILP) maybe taking up livelihood related work in the coastal villages of Tuticorin in Vembar village, where though there is not much life and property damage, livelihood has been affected
- the RIM field team consists of 10 full-time members
- Exnora (with a 32 people field team) has been providing inputs on sanitation and solid waste management in all the villages in collaboration with various NGOs, it has also been providing livelihood based skill training in the villages across the state on a need basis, these include boat engine repair, coconut thatch making, etc.

Ram (is involved with the CCD initiative in Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari):
- 3 organisations on which we have some information:
1. CIKS, which was involved in the early days of the TTRI work may take up some activity for long term agricultural land reclamation in one village in the Nagapattinam District
2. MCRC, cattumarams (made of high density polypropylene) are in display in different collectorates and NGOs and groups involved in providing help for getting boats are welcome to take advantage of this and contact them
3. GSS, a Gujarat based NGO currently camping and working from Sirgazhi has been organising after schools in 10 villages in the Sirgazhi block, they intend to work in these villages till the end of June and then withdraw from the tsunami relief efforts. However, they are willing to support any group interested and willing to work in afforestation and conservation initiative in the coastal region
- CCD of Madurai has been involved in reclamation of agricultural lands in the tarangambadi and sirgazhi taluks, they are currently working with farming community in 14 villages in these taluks
- they have managed to desalinate water bodies (similar to the work of RIM in other villages in the taluk) and leaching of agricultural lands with the help of farmer groups in these villages
- the CCD group in Kanyakumari has identified 21 non-fishing, non-farming occupational group who have been provided help in forming groups and restarting their occupation with investment help from funding agencies
- CCD has also started to work with 2 fishing villages in the Sirgazhi taluk
- the Poompuhar Panchayat leader, Ms. Manimegalai has done a remarkable job of mobilising her village, getting the CCD - SSP team to construct a model permanent housing structure (with technical inputs from the PSI, Dehradun) providing a site near the Panchayat office itself. She has since then created a project called the Clean and Green Poompuhar through which the village women have cleaned 7 kms. of the beach in the village over a 5 day period and for which support has been procured by CCD under pay-for-work programme through a funding agency. Manikegalai has since then initiated cattumaram repair work in the village, 6 Acharis (traditional boat designers and builders) and 15 assistants will be working over a 25 day period repairing over 200 cattumarams from this village and other nearby villages.
- CCD is promoting community based enterprises through occupational groups formed as CBOs
At the end of the meeting it was decided that a similar follow-up meeting will be held in the month of June for information sharing.

4. Job and Volunteer Needs for Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation Work

Tamil speaking and willing to work with any of the agencies mentioned above for a week and more are welcome to contact people in these organisations and contacts given below.
Job Offer:
Position: PROJECT COORDINATOR (Agricultural Reclamation Project)
No. of Jobs: 1
Location: Poompuhar, Nagapattinam District
Qualification: M.Sc., Agriculture Extension (Pathology) or Etymology
Experience: 2-3 years experience in a non-governmental organisation OR Krishi Vigyan Kendra OR Agricultural University as a farm training coordinator OR Person having good experience in agriculture extension service in a private seed or fertiliser companies will also be preferred for the job.

Job Profile:
1. Fully in-charge of the agriculture technology programme in Tsunami affected region of the Nagapattinam District.
2. Design and develop modules for farmers training programme and execute the programmes.
3. Conduct participatory technology development programmes and other field trials techniques for technology transfer
4. Conduct PRA for problem identification and evaluation of the impact of the programme implemented so far
5. Coordinate farmer seminars with national and international consultants
6. Coordinate soil testing campaigns
Language Knowledge: Tamil and English (essential), Hindi (optional).
Contact Person: Mr. Arun, Director (Tsunami Rehabilitation Programme), CCD
Phone (mobile): 09443314304 | email: aruntt@rediffmail.com
5. Contacts:
a. Volunteers write to: knowledge@samanvaya.com with "tsunami volunteer application" in the subject line
b. Rejuvenate India Movement (RIM): A.L. Rangarajan, alrangarajan2001@eth.net and m: 09444208635
c. Sankashti Foundation: Shanthi Krishna, omshanthi@gmail.com and m:09444009851
d. Relief work on the ECR: Angelika and Lakshmi Ranganathan, r: 55853811
e. CCD, Madurai overall Tsunami work: Arun, aruntt@rediffmail.com and m: 09443314304
CCD at Pompuhar, Nagapattinam District: Bhuvana, m: 09443314311
CCD at Naragcoil, Kanyakumari District: Bhanu, m: 09443314305
f. Agricultural revival work through Organic Farmers Network in Nagapattinam: Revathy, m: 09443343336 or 09894124580
Tamilnadu Tsunami Relief Initiative
Compilation and Documentation by: Samanvaya, Chennai: 044-25550781
Samanvaya:Knowledge Services for the Development Sector - www.samanvaya.com

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