Former United States President Bill Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy overseeing recovery efforts from December’s devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, today outlined a four-step rebuilding programme that includes listening attentively to the most vulnerable sectors of society and targeting action to avoid duplication.
“We must do all we can to assure that the voices of the most vulnerable are heard,” Mr. Clinton, appointed to his new mission by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in January, wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times.
“Will women survivors be involved in the design and execution of the recovery process? Will their property rights be protected? Will the Dalits (also known as the “untouchables”) of India be discriminated against?” he asked.
“Will the disaster usher in a new chapter in the peace process in Sri Lanka and Aceh [in Indonesia, where separatists have been waging a decades-old war], thereby making it easier for aid to be distributed and reconstruction to take place wherever it’s needed?”
The three other steps are:
A joint action plant detailing precisely who will do what, where and when to avoid duplication and ensure efficient use of resources, including precisely detailed missions for financing, building, financing and operating a tsunami early warning system.
Restoration of lost livelihoods, financing new economic activities, diversifying affected economies with small loans for new ventures and rehabilitating tourism throughout the whole region, especially in the Maldives where the disaster inflicted losses in excess of 60 per cent of the annual gross domestic product.
A proper response to the housing shortage, with survivors in Aceh and Sri Lanka needing 300,000 homes and 2,000 schools, while at the same time safeguarding the environment deforestation caused by unrestricted logging.
“Thanks to the generosity of millions of people, we will have the resources to meet these daunting challenges,” Mr. Clinton said, noting the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is feeding more than 700,000 people daily and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing for the regions large needs for water and sanitation.
Mr. Clinton recalled that on his latest visit to the region last month a camp leader, a woman who had lost nine of her 10 children, introduced him to a mother who asked him to name her two-day old boy. He suggested “new beginning” which in Indonesian is the same as “Dawn,” a boy’s name.
“I think a lot about that little boy, and our obligation to give him a new dawn,” Mr. Clinton wrote, stressing that all involved in the vast recovery effort, from UN agencies to national governments, from charitable groups like the Red Cross and Catholic Relief Services to hundreds of other non-governmental organizations, must be treated as equal partners in the planning process.
“We can do it together,” he concluded.