On eve of Clinton visit, Oxfam calls for more appropriate land for tsunami survivors

Published: 6 December 2005

As the UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton prepares to meet governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia, Oxfam International today urged the authorities to provide more appropriate land for the construction of permanent.

The call comes on the day (Tuesday) that Clinton arrives in Sri Lanka and the day before he goes to Indonesia to see the recovery effort. Although thousands of permanent houses have already been built in both countries, one of the major factors holding up progress is that governments have not yet put policies in place to ensure appropriate new land is given to all those who lost theirs to the tsunami.

Oxfam is supporting UN Special Envoy Clinton’s efforts to ensure that appropriate land is made available for permanent housing.

“Thousands of permanent houses have already been built for tsunami survivors but until new land is provided for those made landless, the rebuilding process will be too slow. New land must be granted to those who lost it,” said Director of Oxfam Barbara Stocking.

People lost their land to the tsunami in different ways. For many, the land their homes stood on is now under the sea or uninhabitable. Others find themselves banned by the government from rebuilding on their old land due to the creation of coastal “buffer zones”.

In all cases land in locations acceptable to displaced communities must be found, before new houses can be built.

Oxfam and its partners are working closely with the Governments of Sri Lanka and Indonesia to encourage them to provide appropriate land as quickly as possible. So far the Indonesian government has not got policies in place to provide new land to the landless, although a consultation process in now underway. This means that in many cases the rebuilding process cannot even start.

In Sri Lanka the government has made land available but in some cases the land being offered is inappropriate, such as fishing communities being offered land too far away from the sea. This means rebuilding is delayed as it is unclear about whether the communities would move into any new houses built in these areas.

There are however individual cases of success, such as the two villages of Lhoong in Aceh Indonesia where Oxfam has worked with the community to help them successfully lobby the local authorities to pay for new land. In this case the rebuilding process has started, but such examples are too few.

“We’re making some progress in individual cases but we need these examples of best practice to be replicated right across the region. Clinton’s visit is an appropriate moment to push for this best practice to become the norm,” said Director of Oxfam Barbara Stocking.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:
General: Brendan Cox/Sarah Jacobs + 44 1865 472498 or + 447957 120 853
Sri Lanka: Ravi Prasad + 94 7732 15594
Aceh: Doug Keatinge + 62 812 698 9624