Nairobi , 14 March 2005 - In response to the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean region , UN-HABITAT mobilis ed field teams during the first week of January. Habitat Programme Managers acted on UN-HABITAT p rinciple s in the shelter sector, helping UN Country Team coordination, and accelerating response, resource mobilisation, and project formulation.
UN-HABITAT has identified specific five areas of intervention:
- Emergency clean-up and environmental remediation;
- Restoration of critical infrastructure;
- Emergency/transition shelter
- Land-use planning - looking at capital investment in IDP camps with a view to leveraging future value; and
- Restoration of livelihoods.
Apart from emergency interventions where shelter is the central challenge, UN-HABITAT has also developed a series of sustainable reconstruction activities which include:
- Land property administration,
- Good local governance and institutional development,
- Capacity building and empowerment of local institutions and civil society, including gender issues,
- Economic recovery,
- Strategic partnerships, and
- Disaster mitigation and vulnerability reduction.
UN-HABITAT participation at the earliest stages was necessary in order to ensure that h uman settlements interventions, either immediate emergency or transition recovery, are linked to long-term development strategies of disaster-hit countries .
T oday, UN-HABITAT has on-going operations in Sri Lanka , Indonesia , Thailand and Maldives . In addition, following in depth assessment missions to Somalia , an integrated settlements recovery programme has been developed and is actively seeking donor support.
In Sri Lanka , project activities related to physical reconstruction and social recovery have commenced in five cities. The UN-HABITAT country team is promoting partnerships with sister agencies, and is currently working closely with WHO in environmental sanitation efforts, and recent collaboration with FAO has resulted in a joint project to support fishing communities in livelihood revitalisation and shelter reconstruction. Support has also been provided encompassing cross-sectoral concerns like governance, secure tenure, gender and community involvement in local decision making.
In Indonesia , a team of experts is working on two complementary streams of activities: supporting sectoral needs assessment and developing specific proposals and implementation approaches in the Aceh province. A UN-HABITAT site office in Banda Aceh has been established and community mobilisation is underway. UN-HABITAT has assisted UNDP in designing the Aceh Emergency Response & Transitional Recovery Programme, which aims at fostering a crucial link between immediate short-term and longer-term recovery and development activities.
UN-HABITAT fielded an expert in late January to Maldives to work closely with the UN country team in designing a shelter recovery programme. In particular, UN-HABITAT has been working in tandem with UNDP to mobilize resources in support of shelter reconstruction and repair.
The Government-led recovery is well underway in Thailand with keen interest for UN-HABITAT and UNDP to participate in shelter reconstruction. UNDP and UN-HABITAT have joined hands on activities dealing with land and local governance, through the “ Supporting Sustainable Shelter and Resettlement project” .