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Perspective
January 28, 2005
Report from Andaman and Nicobar islands(28/01/2005)

For the latest information, please contact the following organizations
For the official word,
Please contact the Resident Commissioner, Mr. Anshu Prakash at
anshu1961@yahoo.com

ANET Report Summary
Nicobar Islands are very remote and have been impacted the most by the tsunami. Seven of the nine islands in Central Nicobar have been affected, accounting for the displacement of several thousand people. One island (Trinket) has been completely evacuated. Coastal flatlands that were inhabited by the Nicobari for thousands of years have been encroached upon by the sea. The sea now reaches up to the slope forests leaving no room for habitation. People have moved inland to higher ground.

The islands are remote and shipping is the only mode of transport. The destruction of all jetties and landing facilities have impacted the movement of people and material for both relief and rehabilitation. For example, in the worst affected Central Nicobar island group, relief materials have been delivered to a central island and are only now (January 28, 2005) reaching people stranded in the outlying islands.

ANET's survey revealed that the Nicobari tribal people have almost all requested for construction materials and basic carpentry tools to set up their own villages and hamlets. The urgency is understandable as the monsoons will start in the next two months so there is a need for adequate shelter and storage of food.

Constraints and Limitations
The government officials count themselves amongst the victims of the tsunami and so the administrative machinery is almost paralyzed. As an example, on the worst affected Katchal Island, where more than 4,500 people lost their lives and 1600 people are living in relief camps, the island is being administered by a volunteer Special Relief Officer on deputation from New Delhi, 2 PWD engineers, and a handful of policemen. Government employees present on the islands at the time of the disaster were initially evacuated and most now refuse to rejoin duty. Those deputed after the tsunami are mostly unable to cope with the difficult circumstances and tend to leave their positions.

The government processes are slow so it will be months before affected persons receive tangible compensation or aid for rehabilitation. The current embargo on NGOs in the Nicobar Islands has made it almost impossible for experienced groups to provide timely relief in the interim. One month after the disaster, there are still no outside agencies working on the ground. This, coupled with the paralysis of the local administration, has effectively left the islanders to fend for themselves for immediate rehabilitation.

ANET's Plan of Action
ANET proposes to be present on the ground and work in the relief and rehabilitation process in the worst affected areas within Central Nicobar. In order to achieve this, ANET will recruit local volunteers on payment basis to create a local "self help" team for each village. This will enable us to bypass permit problems for the most part, provide income to affected persons who are willing to work, and ensure cultural sensitivities are incorporated into the rehabilitation process. This team can be used by other aid agencies that wish to deliver money, materials, or specialized aid to these villages.

For more information about ANET, please visit:
http://www.madrascrocodilebank.org/anet_background.html

SEEDS Report Summary
In India, the effect of the tsunami in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands resulted in thousands of lives lost and this was the area impacted most by the earthquake and the following tsunami. The last known tsunami in the Andaman Islands was in the 1940s.

SEEDS Efforts in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands:
SEEDS has been providing support to the relief camps in Port Blair. It was the first NGO outside the island to reach Andaman and Nicobar after the disaster.

During the process, SEEDS entered into collaboration with a local voluntary organization and has provided relief and psycho social counseling to camps established by the administration and to the fisherman's colony in the Jungleeghat area.

SEEDS would like to take responsibility of rehabilitating 2,500 families (15,000 people) in one or more settlements in the affected region. SEEDS will work in partnership with the government and community and follows a set of guiding principles in doing rehabilitation work.

SEEDS Approach to Rehabilitation in Tamil Nadu:

  • Training & Capacity building to enhance disaster resilience and sustainability
  • Community based environmental recovery
  • Community based early warning
  • School Safety Program
  • Sustainable Urban Disaster Recovery:
  • Resource Centre:
  • Learning and experience sharing:

For more information about SEEDS, please visit http://www.seedsindia.org/

NCPEDP, Disabled Peoples International-India, And Vidya Sagar Report Summary
National Center for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) in association with Disabled Peoples International-India and Vidya Sagar have launched a campaign to get disability issues included in the relief and rehabilitation work for the victims of the Tsunami. As part of their efforts to gather facts and information, they visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands which have suffered the heaviest loss in India due to the tsunami.

The team was told by some officials that there are no disabled people on the islands and those that were there before have probably been washed away. In doing their own assessment they found quite a number of disabled people in two relief camps they visited.

According to the census 2001, there are 7057 disabled people on the islands, but this is probably an underestimate. The disabled population in India is taken to be 5% - 5% of the island population would be about 20,000 people.

There are disabled people on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that have been affected by the Tsunami. Their needs are not receiving any attention and groups representing the disabled population are not part of the planning and administration of the rehabilitation process.

There are no rehabilitation services available for disabled people in the entire region. There was not much of a focus on disability issues on the Islands before the disaster and changing that now is an opportunity to remedy this past mistake

The team had a positive meeting with the governor. He admitted that disability is a neglected area in the region. He offered his immediate support and also invited the three organizations to start services for disabled people on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Recommendations

  • Immediately collect data on disabled people on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • Disability representatives should be a part of the Coordination
  • Plans to address disability concerns in revival of livelihoods
  • Disabled friendly inclusive built environment
  • Rehabilitation efforts should include disability on their agenda
  • Disability should be a priority area for any policy that is being formulated for preparedness
  • Correct past mistakes and comply with The Disability Act.

Vidya Sagar has a project plan to work on disability issues in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

For more information about NCPEDP, please visit:http://ncpedp.org
For a Profile of Disabled People's International-Asia Pacific, please visit:
http://www.dpi.org/en/locations/regions/a_region.php
For a Profile of Vidya Sagar, please visit:
http://www.chennaibest.com/discoverchennai/ngowatch/feature02.asp

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