|World Bank puts North East people at center of
World Bank support will focus on plans and priorities developed by the communities themselves, the institutions Vice President for the South Asia regionMieko Nishimizu said on Saturday.
Nishimizu on Saturday concluded a two-day visit to the Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts on the eve of the commencement of a comprehensive needs assessment for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North and East.
"I heard the people of Jaffna and Kilinochchi express their hopes and dreams.They also expressed frustration and anger of a people who have suffered too much wanton destruction. The people of the North and East know precisely what they want: they want their lives back. But not just their lives as they were in 1983; they want to be a vital part of the international community. Rebuilding here is not about taking this area back to 1983 but, with the knowledge that global institutions like ours can offer in support, taking the whole of Sri Lanka to 2003 and beyond to a future of hope and peace"Nishimizu said.
She said that the renewal and advancement of the North and East would be driven by the citizens and their extraordinary energies and contributions.
"Government and international resources are critical to jump start the reconstruction process. But in any sustainable reconstruction it is the business people and the farmers who ultimately make the biggest contribution."
She described her visit to Chavakachcheri in May last year when she found a town in ruins with no signs of economic life. Eight months later Chavakachcheris shops were open and bustling, vegetables and fruits filled the markets and houses and businesses were being patched up.
"That is the energy that will fuel Sri Lankas development and it is the energy that both the government and international donors would be wise to support," Nishimizu said.
She said that the voices of women should be heard as the citizens planned their future, be it on the farms or in the towns.
The Sub Committee for Immediate Humanitarian and Reconstruction Needs (SIHRN), a sub committee of the peace process, has agreed to establish six-person development committees of citizens at the district level to which people were encouraged to bring their project proposals. The World Bank has also accepted the custodianship of the North East Reconstruction Fund, a multi-donor vehicle which will be used to support these projects under the coordination of SIHRN.
Meanwhile the Bank expects to begin disbursing resources next month from the $43 million emergency package for the reconstruction of the North and East approved by it last November. This package will support public health, Rs. 15,000 resettlement payments for people returning to their homes (to total Rs 1 billion or $10 million), urban water repairs, institutional capacity building and education.
This follows the rapid needs assessment completed last September in which quick-impact emergency efforts were identified. The comprehensive needs assessment, which launches on Monday in partnership with the United Nations and Asian Development Bank, will work in close cooperation with SIHRN and its community committees to identify housing, infrastructure, education, resettlement and employment creation requirements.
"The most important thing in whatever we do as donors supporting government reconstruction efforts, is to discipline ourselves to listen first and foremost to the needs of the people.These projects should not be designed in Colombo and they should not be designed in Washington DC. The full participation of all the people in the North and East is fundamental"World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka Peter Harold said.
The findings of the comprehensive needs assessment will be presented to an international financing conference for Sri Lanka in Tokyo in June.
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