The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says it has repaired over 3,400 fishing boats damaged by December's devastating tsunami in Sri Lanka, allowing nearly 12,000 fishermen to resume their livelihoods.
According to FAO, more than 54 per cent of coastal fishing vessels in Sri Lanka were completely destroyed or very seriously damaged by the tsunami. Previous estimates put the number of those boats at nearly 20,000. Close to 5,000 fishermen were killed.
In the repair effort, FAO mobilized funds from international donors and is working through Cey-Nor Foundation, a boat-building and fishery supply company owned by the Sri Lankan government.
"FAO is supporting Cey-Nor through the provision of tools, boat repair and materials and payment of labour charges," said FAO Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordinator Mona Chaya. "The aim of the activity is to ensure that fishers in all affected districts are allowed to resume their livelihoods as quickly as possible."
Earlier in the week, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced they were joining forces to restore coastal communities in Sri Lanka through beach rehabilitation and biodiversity renewal, drinking water replenishment, income-generation projects, and awareness-raising on environmental issues.
FAO, the UN's lead agency for the rehabilitation of fishing in Sri Lanka, says its long-term strategy is to not only restore the livelihood of the fishermen but also to raise the incomes of coastal communities above pre-tsunami levels.
In related news, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced today that work has started on an accelerated school building programme that will construct 200 temporary schools in one month across the tsunami-damaged region of Aceh, Indonesia. Up to 42,000 children will attend classes in the buildings, which are replacing the tents that have served as emergency classrooms there.