Thursday, August 31, 2006

Advocacy Awareness Workshop

Practical Action of Ampara recently held an Advocacy Awareness Programme workshop for its partner organisations in the Ampara District. The workshop spanned two days from the 29th to the 30th of August at the Ariyawan Hotel in Ampara. Although 30 organisations had confirmed their participation, only 14 organisations were present at this residential workshop. The subjects covered included Disaster Management, Conflict Sensitivity, Gender Sensitivity, and Peoples Participation. Those in attendance said the workshop was very interesting and informative.

PEI group helping Sri Lanka rebuild

Source: August 31, 2006 - The Guardian by Caitlin McIntyre

Doug MacArthur has a master plan to help rebuilding efforts in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka. MacArthur is president of the PEI-based group Canadian Agro Sustainability Partnership Inc., which in June completed a preliminary master plan report for a reconstruction project in Ampara District, Sri Lanka.

Last year, the Sri Lankan government chose CASP to create a 25-year plan to reconstruct the devastated area. Ampara District was the area hardest hit by the December 2004 tsunami, which caused the death of over 10,000 people and $600-million in property damage.

Sri Lankan Minister Ferial Ashraff met with MacArthur in PEI this week to discuss the plan and to negotiate an additional role for CASP in housing and community development in the country. Ashraff is the Minister of Housing and Construction Industries as well as the minister responsible for tsunami reconstruction in Ampara District.

The master plan, which CASP developed through partnerships with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and more than 100 donors and non-governmental organizations, is designed to improve all sectors in Ampara District, MacArthur said in an interview. He said the long-term plan will upgrade such sectors as housing, agriculture, health systems and education. With a total of $13.5-billion (US) donated for tsunami recovery efforts, the funds are available to implement an impact reconstruction plan.

“What makes this situation rather unique is that although Sri Lanka is rather a poor country, there was so much money donated (after) the tsunami that there’s not a scarcity of money for good projects,” MacArthur said.

Now it’s CASP’s responsibility to help the Sri Lankan government spend that money wisely. Currently, the company has 40 staff and four offices in Sri Lanka, and MacArthur said he hopes to send about 50 people to the country to help in relief efforts over the next several months.

Ashraff, who was the first Sri Lankan minister to visit this province, traveled the Island, making stops at Future Tech in O’Leary, North Cape wind project, and West Prince Ventures. Considering the similarities – economic bases in agriculture, fisheries, and tourism, as well as many small communities – shared by Prince Edward Island and Sri Lanka, it seemed appropriate for CASP to play a major role in rebuilding efforts, she said.

Over the next couple of years, MacArthur wants to expand the project to include 100-200 full-time staff members in the county and an additional two offices. Meanwhile, Ashraff spent the last day of her trip meeting with Premier Pat Binns, MacArthur said, adding that she asked him to support a stronger relationship between PEI and Sri Lanka now and in the future.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Senior Sri Lankan Minister visiting PEI

Source: August 28, 2006 - The Guardian

The Sri Lankan Minister of Housing and Construction Industries, Ferial Ashraff, was on the Island on the weekend for meetings with Canadian Agro Sustainability Partnership (CASP) Inc. Ashraff is a senior minister in the government of Sri Lanka. She is also the minister responsible for tsunami reconstruction in Ampara District, which suffered a loss of 10,000 lives and $600 million in property damage from the December 26, 2004, tsunami. CASP reports to Ashraff in its Ampara District master plan reconstruction activities.

While in PEI, Ashraff was scheduled to meet with CASP on the master plan and discuss an additional role proposed for CASP to facilitate housing and community development reconstruction in Sri Lanka. Today, the minister will travel to western PEI with CASP management to visit Future Tech in O’Leary, North Cape wind project, Tignish community co-ops and West Prince Ventures.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kaliodai Bridge completed after eight years

After eight years, the new 75-metre bridge at Kaliodai, Oluvil, along the Kalmunai-Akkaraipattu road, has finally been completed. During the tsunami, the temporary bridge built at that location (while the main bridge was under construction) gave way and the road became impassible, causing grave difficulties in transportation of relief and other materials.

The bridge was reconstructed at a a cost of 50 million rupees with funds received from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) by the Small Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Upgrading Programme (SIRUP). The bridge was declared open by the Additional Provincial Director of the Road Development Authority, Mr. ALM Nizar, on the 23rd of August, 2006 with a simple ceremony to mark the occasion. The initial foundations were laid exactly eight years before this date.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Bio Gas Digester

The first ever Biogas Digester Project in Ampara District was recently inaugurated by CASP’s Project Vice-President, Mr. Victor Petrescu, at Ampara's Hardy Institute to mark its Golden Jubilee Celebration.

CASP, which has undertaken the task of preparing a Master Plan to aid in the rebuilding the tsunami-ravaged Ampara District, completed this project in a very short time under the supervision of its Director of Finance and Administration, M.M. Razeen. Lewis HMJ Consultants Inc. of Canada, Ray Halsey (President/Director) and Tom Hartz (Environmental Services Manager)had previously visited the site and found that the location was suitable, with required raw materials and inputs available on site.

A simple ceremony to mark the opening of the project was attended by Mr. Razeen, Hardy Institute Director NMKK Mawaratna, Environmental Specialist M.A.C. Najeeb, CASP Manager-Teaching & Training S.V.S. Imbuldeniya, and staff from CASP's Akkaraipattu and Kalmunai offices.

”The project is first of its kind in the region and will greatly benefit students who are interested in studying biogas digesters as a pre-vocational subject. At the same time, they can also make use of the gas for domestic purposes,” said Mr. Razeen, who took a major role in implementing this project.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Internet Cafe at the Hardy Institute

The Canadian Agro-Sustainability Partnership (CASP) set up an Internet Cafe at the exhibition held to mark the golden jubilee of Hardy Institute in Ampara. The exhibition was declared open by the Urban Council Chairman, Saman Desappriya, on July 28th at 9 a.m. and ran for two days. Mr. Desappriya was briefed about CASP activities in Ampara District as he visited the Internet Cafe, and he was very pleased with CASP's works to date.

Parliamentarian and former Minister of Health, P. Dayaratne, opened the second day of the exhibition, and he too visited CASP’s stall, commenting that he was seeing this programme for the first time in Ampara District.

The Internet Cafe attracted a large crowd of more than 5000 people, many of them school children from the various schools in Ampara District. It was a very special event for those children who previously have had no access to computers or the internet.

Professor Evan Hardy, a Canadian national, started the Hardy institute in 1956 to provide the people in Sri Lanka with technical education and training. Though Professor Hardy passed away in 1963, his vision still lives on and projects like the Internet Cafe at the Hardy Institute honour his memory.