Tsunami displaced asked to build their own houses to beat costs

Chief Regulatory Officer at CSE Renuke Wijayawardhane presenting the listing certificate to Executive Chairperson at Renuka Hotels Shibani Thambiayah

July 13, 2006 (LBO) – International donors who signed up to build homes for Sri Lankans displaced by the tsunami, are now altering plans to beat bureaucratic delays and rising construction costs, officials said Thursday. Over 98,000 houses needed to be built following the December 2004 tsunami that killed over 31,000 people and left nearly a million homeless.

Despite an outpouring of assistance from humanitarian agencies, many still live in plastic shelters as donors battle rising building costs and hunt for suitable land to relocate people.

“A 600 square foot house now costs 1.35 million rupees to build, we initially estimated only half of that cost or even less,” Neville Nanayakkara, Director General of Sri Lanka Red Cross told journalists.

The government says around 68,000 homes need to come up to house those living in temporary shelters or with relatives and friends.

“The focus is now on getting those displaced to build their own homes, as opposed to donors doing it. It’s faster and much cheaper,” said Ramesh Selliah, Director-Housing attached to RADA, the government’s tsunami rebuilding agency.

The shift to owner driven housing programmes has also excited humanitarian agencies like the Inter