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Tsunami recovery programme needs funds, UN Res Coordinator

The artisinal fisheries sector was badly affected by the tsunami (IRIN)

Efforts to repair infrastructure damaged by the devastating tsunami of December 2004 continue in the Seychelles despite a shortfall in donor funding.

UN Resident Coordinator for Seychelles Aase Smedler told IRIN on Tuesday that the shortfall in funding "is delaying our response in many areas".

"It is a setback but we are working ... on a lot of preparatory activities regarding rehabilitation of the fisheries sector, for example," Smedler noted.

The Indian Ocean island nation was one of the countries affected by the Boxing Day tsunami, when tidal waves killed two people, displaced about 900 families, and damaged public infrastructure and facilities, such as bridges on the main highway between the airport and the capital, Victoria.

Tourism and fisheries, both vital to the economy, were also badly affected. The Seychelles assessed damage from the tsunami at about US $30 million.

In its latest situation report the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that, "The limited amount of resources pledged by donors against the Flash Appeal continues to hamper rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. The UN Resident Coordinator is approaching a number of donors to bridge the funding gap. Most of the assistance to date has been provided by the private sector, bilateral contributions, or the government."

Insufficient funding was hampering full-scale implementation of projects budgeted for in the Flash Appeal. "Nevertheless, preparatory work for the UN projects in response to the damage caused by the tsunami is in progress," OCHA noted.

Smedler said the aim of these projects "is to re-establish economic activity and build up livelihoods".

According to the OCHA financial tracking website, the Seychelles has received about $4.4 million from donors. Smedler noted that this was against the $11.5 million budgeted for under the Flash Appeal.

"There are possibilities that we're reviewing with donors and we hope that some of them will materialise as sizeable contributions," she added.

Despite the funding shortfall, efforts to clean up and repair environmental and structural damage caused by the tsunami continue. The Ministry of Local Government, Sports and Culture has been using its "emergency brigades" to organise these operations.

A new permanent secretary was recently appointed to chair the committee managing the national emergency fund, in a bid to improve the coordination of information related to tsunami-response activities.

The UN plans to increase support to the Seychelles risk and disaster management secretariat, "particularly with regards to the consolidation and provision of information on tsunami-related response activities," OCHA noted.

Longer-term support to the secretariat will come from the UN Development Programme's project for improving early warning and disaster management systems.

"This project will support national tsunami early warning activities, as part of the government of Seychelles' participation with the [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission] UNESCO/IOC-led initiative to establish a regional tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean," OCHA noted.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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