Sri Lanka - Local Industry and Women Construction Training
The devastating tsunami of December 2004 had a huge impact on many communities in Sri Lanka, especially the east coast towns of Batticaloa and Ampara. World Vision’s plan was to build 3,360 houses and 63 schools. They needed a partner to help manage this process, and to share modern construction techniques with local contractors and labor crews so they could construct safer homes and schools more efficiently.
Builders Without Borders was involved in two separate initiatives over this time period. The first was a capacity building initiative, which involved BWB partnering with the World Vision Tsunami Response Team to increase the construction industry skills within Sri Lankan communities. Three BWB volunteers (Pictured: Julia Armstrong) with carpentry and masonry skills worked with local contractors teaching them new methods of construction that would produce safer and more efficient buildings. This included safety procedures, use of power tools, staging construction work, preassembling wall panels, roof joists, doorframes and windows. The BWB team also conducted the first carpentry workshops for young Sri Lankan women.
The second initiative involved BWB consultants’ participation in inspections of World Vision’s reconstructed schools (Pictured) and community water systems once they were completed. The inspections were carried out in Sri Lanka’s Eastern regions following a recent peace agreement after twenty years of civil war.
Capacity building and skills development in the communities is at the heart of every BWB project. The completion of the trainings resulting in increased carpentry and masonry skills in the communities and participation of women in the development of these skills. Additionally, BWB successfully completed the inspections of World Vision’s schools and water systems, and developed a report despite interruptions by community lock downs due to risk of artillery fire in the region. The inspections indicated that for the first time, water systems were successfully being monitored and operated by the communities, rather than the government. As a ‘win’ for the communities, they were effectively collecting money to maintain the systems and make needed repairs.