The People’s Health Movement (PHM), organized a ‘learning together’ dialogue in Chennai, India to evolve a strategy towards long term involvement of PHM in the post disaster work. The Workshop was held the Abu Palace Hotel, Chennai from 8th-9th April 2005.
The PHM Sri Lanka was represented by Dr.Vinya Ariyaratne, Executive Director of Sarvodaya with other individuals and organizations belonging to the PHM Sri Lanka. The members of the Sri Lanka delegation included Mr.Niranjan Udumalagala (PHM-Sri Lanka), Ms.Padma Pushpakanthi (Savisthri Organization), Mr.Sarath Fernando (MONLAR), Mr.Vincent Bulathsinghala (Tsunami Activist) and Ms.Cyrene Siriwardhana (Center for Policy Alternatives), Mr.Sarath Fernanda (MONLAR).
The Tsunami disaster has been an unprecedented experience for all of us – a massive natural disaster causing death and devastation of lives, livelihoods and the environment; an unprecedented government and civil society response of fund raising, relief and rehabilitation initiatives; an opportunity for local, national, regional and international networking and solidarity; and an intersectoral involvement that is multi-dimensional. However, the post Tsunami scenario has also been subjected to the politics and power of aid. Distorted by agendas of security, ethnic conflict, economic interests and corruption, it has sometimes increased the divisions and inequities of fractured societies.
At the end of January 2005, at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre and in the International Health Forum that preceded it, we in the Global People’s Health Movement, released a statement of concern and solidarity (enclosed) focusing on the challenges of community oriented and community empowering post disaster responses and strategies.
In April 2005, as we complete three months of involvement and experience in responding to the disaster, this workshop provided the opportunity for an informal interactive and participatory dialogue to learn together from this experience and to look at the concerns and challenges outlined in our statement and evolve a PHM approach to longer term post disaster involvement.