JAFFNA, SRI LANKA (7 February 2005) - ADB will expand the work of a highly successful project that helps conflict-affected communities in northeast Sri Lanka to include tsunami victims. It will also extend the project to help tsunami-affected communities in the south.

Although over 60% of damage caused by the tsunami occurred in the northeast, many areas in the south were also badly affected.

Since 2001, ADB's North East Community Restoration and Development (NECORD) Project has assisted over half a million people in the northeast rebuild lives shattered by nearly two decades of conflict. The $40 million project, partly financed by an ADB loan of $25 million, provides housing and drinking water and helps fishermen and farmers to re-establish their livelihoods. The project also repairs key infrastructure such as roads and bridges, schools and health centers.

A second NECORD project, financed by a $40 million ADB loan, was in the Bank's program for the second half of 2005. "Now we plan to bring it forward and expand it to include rebuilding after the tsunami. ADB is looking to provide additional funding of between $100 milllion and $150 million," says Bob Rinker, deputy country director for the ADB's Sri Lanka Resident Mission. "The additional funding will also include tsunami-affected areas in the south as well as the northeast, where other existing projects will be utilized and expanded."

Last month, ADB committed emergency assistance totaling US$200 million in new funding - much of it in grants -to Sri Lanka in 2005 for post-tsunami reconstruction.

The restructured program to assist conflict and tsunami affected communities is expected to be considered by ADB's Board of Directors before end-April.

"We plan to use existing project management units to implement new projects, as the fastest way to get the benefits to the people is to use systems that are already in place," notes Alessandro Pio, ADB's country director in Sri Lanka.

Over the past four years, the NECORD project has improved the lives of a significant proportion of the 700,000 to 800,000 people who were forced to move because of the conflict. Assistance has included the construction of nearly 500 homes, 150 schools and over a dozen hospitals and health clinics.

"I know many of the affected people in the north," says Mookiah Thiruchelvam, ADB's project implementation officer for NECORD. "Some villages were destroyed more than once during the conflict and people ended up staying in camps for years. Many were just rebuilding their lives when the tsunami put them right back to square one."

In one welfare camp in the northeast, Victoriya Albonz says she and her family of five spent many years at Puthukudiyiruppu camp before returning to Manatkadu village in mid 2002. On 26 December 2004, the tsunami swept them out of their home and they are now living in a tent. Despite being twice driven from her home, her biggest wish is to return.

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