As part of continuing efforts to help coastal communities recover from the devastating effects of last year's Indian Ocean tsunami, United Nations agencies today announced the distribution of fishing equipment in Sri Lanka and strategies for the reconstruction of ports in Indonesia.
Close to 900 fishing nets, along with 67 boat engines, were distributed to fishermen in Galle, Sri Lanka on Saturday, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Agency (FAO), as part of a project funded by the Government of Japan.
Around 5,000 fishermen were killed by the tsunami waves in Sri Lanka and tens of thousands of others saw their houses destroyed and their means of earning a living – their boats and nets – washed away. A spokesman for the Japanese Government said the objective of the project was to restore livelihoods as soon as possible.
"Now that my boat has been repaired and that I've been given this engine and these nets, I'm finally able to go out fishing daily like I used to before the tsunami," said M. Cyril, a beneficiary from the coastal town of Dodanduwa.
Selected beneficiaries were given vouchers ranging from $200 to $4000, depending on the size of their boats, and then chose a combination of nets from the $39,256 stock of nets provided by FAO with the Japanese funding. In addition, approximately $95,890 worth of 9.9 and 15-horsepower engines were provided to fishermen who lost their motors to the immense December waves.
Also today, in an effort to restore the economies of Aceh and Nias in Indonesia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a report summarizing the strategy for the reconstruction and development of the commercial ports in those areas, which were destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 or the subsequent earthquake of 28 March 2005.
According to the report, ports are essential for importing materials to be used in the reconstruction of the effected areas. It estimates that over 30 million tons of such materials must be brought in and distributed over the next four years, the vast majority by sea. For that reason, it proposes both a short-term and a long-term strategy.
In the very short term, it proposes that the port of Sabang, off the coast of Aceh, be equipped to act as a hub. Goods received there will then be transhipped in vessels that can dock at damaged ports or beaches as necessary.
The long-term strategy includes the reconstruction and development of a network of large and small ports for Aceh and Nias, with Sabang continuing to act as the hub.