Building Back Better - after the tsunami
By Pallava Bagla
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting the tsunami ravaged areas of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu to `build back better’. In this larger southern Indian region more than 7000 people lost their lives in the tsunami that hit its shores on 26 December 2004.
UNICEF has provided comprehensive support in restoring the educational system for children in the region by providing furniture, schools bags and books to the tsunami ravaged schools in the area. UNICEF also supported psycho-social care of the children, and provided recreational avenues in after school activities.
Working with the local government, village watch dog committees were strengthened to provide better child support activities and improved sanitation while providing safe drinking water.
UNICEF also supported the training of women masons and mechanics to repair damaged hand pumps. Teachers were also trained to help children cope the post-disaster trauma.
The tsunami killed more than 12,400 in India – three-quarters were women and children. The worst damage was sustained in Tamil Nadu and Andaman & Nicobar Islands where 58 hospitals and health centres, and 358 schools were destroyed or damaged. A year later, there are still 19,000 families living in shelters in Tamil Nadu and 23,500 people in the Nicobar Islands have not yet been relocated to their permanent homes.