The Government decided today to allocate up to SEK 440 million over a five-year period for reconstruction after the tsunami disaster in Asia. The support will go mainly to Indonesia and Sri Lanka and to regional initiatives.
SEK 220 million has been paid out previously in humanitarian support, out of the SEK 500 million that was made available immediately after the disaster. Total Swedish support for post-tsunami humanitarian assistance and reconstruction thus amounts to SEK 660 million.
The earthquake in the Bay of Bengal on 26 December 2004 and the flood waves that followed caused one of the world's very worst natural disasters. As many as 300 000 people lost their lives and over a million were left homeless. Indonesia and Sri Lanka suffered most and large segments of the coastal population of these two countries are now without any means of support. India, the Maldives and Thailand were also affected by the tsunami.
Some of the support for Indonesia is being channelled via a reconstruction fund (Multidonor Trust Fund) established by the World Bank. Sweden is represented on the Steering Committee, as are the European Commission, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Germany and the UK, among others.
"As a member of the Steering Committee, Sweden will do what it can to ensure that reconstruction in Aceh focuses on the needs of those who have been hardest hit," says Minister for International Development Cooperation Carin Jämtin.
"The reconstruction process must be careful not to recreate poverty; it must lead to socially and environmentally sustainable development. The issues we will emphasise are coordination, a focus on poor people in conflict-sensitive areas and ensuring that measures are guided by the countries' own priorities. Special attention must be paid to gender equality issues and the situation of children, and a close eye must also be kept on the risk of corruption," she continues.
No definite decision has yet been taken on the forms of support for Sri Lanka, but one possibility is to amplify the parts of bilateral cooperation that are relevant to the work of reconstruction over a certain period.
Regional initiatives will also receive Swedish support. An agreement has been entered into with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on support for an inventory of environmental damage following the disaster. Ongoing regional projects and programmes, primarily related to the marine environment of the Bay of Bengal, including fisheries, will also receive support. Extra funds may also be made available to the ILO and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), for use in job creation programmes.
Of the SEK 440 million allocated, SEK 150 million is intended for Indonesia, SEK 120 million for Sri Lanka and SEK 120 million for regional initiatives. In view of the great uncertainty at present about needs for funds during reconstruction, an unspecified reserve of SEK 50 million has been set aside.
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