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'NGOs played key role in rehabilitation'

NGOs had set up 11,625 temporary shelters and donated fibreglass boats, drinking water, sanitation, essential commodities and utensils to fishermen

Business Standard 

In Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu, people view non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with respect, citing their "commendable" role in rehabilitation after the 2004 tsunami.

J Radhakrishnan, former collector of Thanajavur and the person who spearheaded the rescue operations in Nagapattinam district, said more than 419 NGOs came forward to work in the affected areas. Relief material was distributed through an NGO coordination centre in the district, he added.

The NGO coordination and resource centre (NCRC) was aimed at coordinating the efforts of these entities with those of government departments. It was planned when rehabilitation work reached a mature stage, NGOs would hand over the work to separate organisations.

While the South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies and Social Need Education and Human Awareness continue to work to improve the conditions of fishermen, by 2007, NCRC was transformed into Building and Enabling Disaster Resilience of Coastal Communities (BEDROC), an organisation focusing on improving soil and water conditions for farmers, said Basil and Santhosh, who are engaged with BEDROC.

NGOs had set up 11,625 temporary shelters and donated fibreglass boats, drinking water, sanitation, essential commodities and utensils to fishermen. Besides, free medical camps and counselling was conducted for those hit by the tsunami. These entities also played a key role in increasing enrolment in schools, locals say.

Besides helping in rescue operations, NGOs also set up vocational training centres such as HOPE Foundation, set up in collaboration with US-based Manpower. They also helped set up the Centre of HOPE in Nagapattinam, which ran two schools and microfinance programmes in the area. The HOPE foundation claims the initiative is one of the largest in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

The vocational programme has a 15-year sustainability plan, with significant investment in infrastructure such as buildings, computers and equipment. It aims to train 10,000 students during the first 10 years.

While the Society for Community Organisation and People's Education, Tiruchi, conducted training programmes for carpentry, CARE India enabled the construction of 20 model individual 'Ecosan' toilets.

The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation established a knowledge resource centre in Akkaraipettai village in Nagapattinam.

The Tata Relief Committee is engaged in providing information to fishermen and farmers on microenterprises, the availability of fish and fish-processing.

SOS Children's Villages, an NGO, provided emergency relief to families affected by the tsunami. SOS Social Centre offers a comprehensive package of services for families.

Volunteers from social welfare organisations in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat set up community kitchens for the displaced. Several other entities, such as the Rotary and Lions clubs and Seva Bharathi, helped organise mass cremations after the tsunami.

First Published: Fri, December 26 2014. 00:24 IST