Saturday, December 02, 2006

Clinton wants the Cuddalore model replicated elsewhere

Clinton wants the Cuddalore model replicated elsewhere - The Hindu
Ramya Kannan

All praise for the town's post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation effort

CUDDALORE: It was in the shade of a neem tree at the Panchayat Union Middle School in Thazhanguda, a fishing village in Cuddalore, that the future disaster management policy of the United Nations was discussed on a hot Friday morning.

Former U.S. President and United Nations Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Bill Clinton cited the model the small town had adopted for post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation and wanted it to be replicated not only in other tsunami-hit areas but also the rest of the world. "I want to figure out how to make this part of the UN strategy for future disasters."

"This is a good model for economic diversification and housing construction, not only for places devastated by natural disaster but also where poor people have substandard housing and not much economic opportunity. What is being done here, I would like to see copied throughout the world," Mr. Clinton reiterated during his last trip to India as Special Envoy.

He lauded the speedy pace at which houses were built for each family that had lost its home while ensuring that education, water and sanitation standards were on par with the mandate he had set.

He said housing was very important and also "the hardest thing to do." In other places, only about 30 per cent of the homes had been replaced. Even in Florida, a year after the hurricane rendered several thousands homeless, people were still living in tents. In Cuddalore, even those not affected by the tsunami but identified as "vulnerable" had been given houses.

He commended the efforts to provide alternative livelihood for those who had suffered multiple losses during the tsunami.

Mr. Clinton, who turned out in a formal blazer worn over a blue t-shirt, also dwelt on the warning system that had come up in the area. Cuddalore could be proud that it had covered the "last mile" in early warning systems and disaster preparedness.

Commending Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi for leading the recovery and rehabilitation effort right through, he said behind the success story was an "unusual partnership - national funding and regional leadership under this good man here." A combination of government, NGO and private contractor partnership had helped "build back better."

In two hours, Mr. Clinton visited the house of Mayilvail, a fisherman, in the newly reconstructed shelters (by the TANFAC Janseva Trust), interacted with students of the Panchayat Union Middle School in Thazhanguda and witnessed a mock disaster-preparedness drill.

Characteristically, he broke protocol to reach out, touch and interact with the locals who had gathered in droves to see him.

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