June 27, Colombo: The European Union has handed over newly built houses and irrigation channels to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Batticaloa district in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province.
The Head of Operations of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. Willy Vandenberghe, visited the conflict affected village of Welikakandiya in Batticaloa District on Tuesday (24th June) and handed over newly constructed houses to returnee families.
These families have been rebuilding their homes through the support provided by the Housing Recovery Programme, an initiative funded by the EU in partnership with the Government of Australia and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
In line with the Sri Lankan government policy, the project implemented by UNHABITAT with Euro 12 million support from EU has succeeded in employing a 'home owner driven' process of reconstruction, where the beneficiaries have contributed with their own labor, time and resources.
The participatory process has empowered families to take charge of their own reconstruction and recovery.
The EU Head during his visit has also inaugurated irrigation channels that will serve over 300 resettled families in the same village of Welikakandiya in Batticaloa district.
The project, implemented by the EU partner ZOA at a cost of Euro 2.9 million for both Northern and the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, falls under the EU-Socio Economic Measures programme which has a total budget of Euro16 million for 2011-2014.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Vandenberghe said that in the ten years between 2005 - 2015, the EU would have assisted in the reconstruction of 20,000 houses in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka.
"The EU's contribution to housing of over Rs. 8.5 billion (Euro 50 million), stemming from the EU "Aid to Uprooted People" Programme, shows its commitment to improving the lives of the vulnerable and also reflects its long-term partnership with Sri Lanka," Mr. Vandenberghe said.
He said with the opening of the irrigation channels, the productivity of land would increase many folds.
"Efficient use of water remains high on the agenda and I extend my sincere thanks to the government officials, beneficiaries and the implementing partners who have worked selflessly to make this possible," the official noted.