Thursday, April 20, 2006

Introduction to CASP Activities

Tsunami- and conflict-ravaged Ampara District is to have its plan for rebuilding (the Master Plan) developed by the Canadian Agro-Sustainability Partnership (CASP). This work follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Government of Sri Lanka and CASP. CASP’s main office in the town of Ampara, and its sub offices in Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu, are staffed by local experts who are engaged in collecting information for this project while working under the guidance of the CASP Executive and international consultants from Canada and beyond.

Environmental specialists from Lewis HMJ Consultants Inc. of Canada, Ray Halsey (President/Director) and Tom Hartz (Environmental Services Manager), along with CASP's local Environmental Specialist, MAC Najeeb, have toured some of the most affected areas of Ampara District to ascertain the environmental challenges to be faced and to get some first-hand information on the current situation (e.g. the system used by the general public in certain areas whereby garbage is simply dumped and burned outside). Meanwhile, CASP's Gender Specialist, Marnie Girvan, along with Dr. Anuzsiya Senathirajah, a lecturer from the Southeastern University of Sri Lanka, met with prominent women in the District in an effort to fully understand issues related to gender and the specific difficulties women are facing. Similarly, local specialists in Agriculture, Fisheries, and other sectors are in the field collecting other information that will go into the preparation of the Ampara District Master Plan.

In preparation for the production of the Rebuild Ampara video, CASP's Vice-President of Communication & Technology, Jeff MacAthur, visited almost all the tsunami-affected areas in the District, from Periya Neelavanai to Arugam Bay, and conducted interviews with people from a variety of sectors and backgrounds. Accompanied by the Rebuild Ampara Communications Team, which includes local media personalities MA Phakurdeen and MIM Anwar, video recordings were taken with tsunami-affected villagers, fishermen, teachers, businessmen, community leaders, and others. These will be assembled into the Rebuild Ampara video, which will provide an overview of the current situation and is scheduled to be released in May 2006.

CASP's activities are ongoing under the supervision of CASP President, Douglas MacArthur, and (in his absence) CASP Project Management Director, Victor Petrescu. CASP welcomes input from other organizations, and our blog readers are invited to post comments here or contact us directly.