Island Updates from Sri Lanka, Andaman Islands and Vanuatu
Seacology has a commitment to stand by our island projects when disasters such as the major tsunami hit the Indian Ocean in December 2004. Thanks to generous donations to Seacology's Tsunami Relief Fund of 2005 Seacology was able to provide relief projects to communities where Seacology had a presence before the event. These projects were intended to complement larger relief organization efforts in affected areas by providing to community members long-term relief in terms of restoring damaged village homes and community centers, or by providing materials and supplies communities said they needed most in order to regain traditional livelihood practices.
One of the updates we received this past week was from Seacology's long time friend and contact, Mr. Anuradha Wickramasinghe, Director of the Small Fishers Federation of Sri Lanka (SFFL). When the 2004 tsunami swept across this area of Sri Lanka, Seacology responded to SFFL with three projects to help community members recover from such a devastating trauma to their lives and community. Seacology repaired the damaged Seacology-funded SFFL Mangrove Resource Center, rebuilt a destroyed fishers' community center and provided sustainable fishing canoes and fishing gear to 88 families in the region, and replaced 15 lost fishing boats for a sustainable fishing cooperative in the area. This last project was just completed in mid-2007 and now each boat is owned and run by three family members who each provide food and income to an average five-member household (above right).
Also in update news, I received an update from our project contact at Havelock, Andaman Islands this past week. Now that all materials have been shipped after months of delay, the major portion of the construction of an environmental education center is about to begin. The building is scheduled to be completed in late 2007 or early 2008. Meanwhile, the 10-year 2,175-acre no-take marine reserve is being enforced with a boat currently being used to patrol the conservation area from November through May when poachers have access to the area, recycling containers for the area are due to be delivered this month, and environmental education programs with local schools have been running since Spring 2007 with classes being held at the resort cafe until the center is completed. (above left)
Finally, in Vanuatu, field representative Kevin Tari writes that the Port Olry Village is finalizing construction on a community center that is being built with Seacology funds in exchange for the establishment of a 20-year 42-acre terrestrial reserve on Malleuth and Malmas Islands. While the project has experienced some delays, the building is complete up to roof level, with roofing and window and door framing to be completed by the end of this year. The community is beginning their long-term conservation plans by setting up a MPA management committee as soon as they are finished with construction work.