Tsunami Rehabilitation

Introduction:
Though the Tsunami has not taken the lives of the Gulf of Mannar (GOM) fisher folk, they equate what they have seen with, “Aanirai Kavarthal” (announcing war by taking away or capturing the cattle in the past) and “mother sea has started a war on mother earth” by taking away our possessions i.e. fishing crafts and nets. Seeing the abundance of harvest before the Tsunami, many of the fisher folk, after celebrating the Christmas ventured in to the sea and put up their crab nets.

When they were about to go and collect their harvest, the Tsunami came and for the next several days they could not venture into the sea. In order to compensate the declining crab (fish) catch, they used to combine ten to fifteen nets that ranged for kilomenters. When they ventured into the sea to check the net and bring it back many of them were unable to trace it. Many of the fisher folk who used to keep the lobster nets in safe places on islands have lost it.

Usually the costly shore nets are kept in the shore because of its heavy weight and consequently in four villages the Tsunami washed away the shore nets. Not only the crafts and nets of the local people but also the crafts and gears of other fisherman from the Kanyakumari district, who were in the GOM region for the season, were damaged beyond repair. None of the old people could recall an incident in which the sea “attacked land” and took away the people’s belongings. With the catamarans, nets and other fishing equipments gone, the only means of fishermen making a living had been wiped out. In our working villages there were 3,374 families, who lost their fishing crafts and nets. The poor fishers could not go for fishing for several months, because they did not have the fishing equipments

The Relief and Rehabilitation
After the Tsunami PAD with the help of the Siemenpuu Foundation, the Christian Children Fund of Canada and HIVOS - Netherlands provided 25,000 people (5,000 families) in the Gulf of Mannar region with a provision of food through secure community-based organizations centers. The concerned Panchayat presidents and the local leaders were involved in the distribution as well as some of the local NGOs and Fisherman unions (TRRM and RFTU).

The majority of the population in Gulf of Mannar villages consists of poor artisanal fishers and since their fishing equipments have been devastated there was an urgent need for providing them with food. Consequently the following activities were undertaken:

  • Distribution of rice (10 kgs) per family
  • Dhal (1 kg) per family
  • Cooking oil (1kg) per family

A Study on the Impact of the Tsunami
To make an in-depth study on the impact of Tsunami in the Ramanathapuram, Thoothukudi, Thirunelveli and Kanyakumari Districts. This study of the villages affected by Tsunami focused on the following objectives:

  • To assess and record the loss of lives in Tsunami affected areas
  • To assess the loss of property in the Tsunami affected area
  • To assess the extent of damage to the material needed for their livelihood
  • To assess the loss of dwelling units in the Tsunami affected area
  • To assess the damages to corals and beneath bio diversity at these coast of four districts
  • To assess the impact on the ecological, geo physical aspects