Former Presidents Visit CHF International's Shelter Projects in Sri Lanka

Former Presidents Visit CHF International's Shelter Projects in Sri Lanka

clintoSILVER SPRING, Md., Feb. 24 /U.S. Newswire/ – The success of post-tsunami reconstruction efforts depends in large part on sustaining the interest and supportive commitment of international leaders like former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who recently visited CHF International's shelter reconstruction projects in southern Sri Lanka.

Presidents Clinton and Bush spent about approximately 15 minutes speaking with CHF International staff members about the transitional shelters they are building, which will provide recipients with a durable housing solution that they can expand on over time, or whose parts can be reused if they choose to move.

"As Americans with a strong commitment to ensuring economic and social planning is based upon a democratic approach, visits by former Presidents Clinton and Bush can only help to strengthen the response of local leaders to affected communities' needs," said Rick Hill, CHF International's Director of the Office of Emergency and Transition Programs, who served as the team leader for the organization's initial tsunami response in Sri Lanka.

"Seeing such high level commitment raises the bar expected of local leaders, and makes it more difficult for them to rely on top-down autonomous decision-making models that ignore the needs of lower income, less powerful citizens," Hill added.

With the vast majority of people displaced by the tsunamis among the most economically disadvantaged, CHF International has made every effort to include a wide range of community members in shelter design, and to convey their needs to local leaders. The organization also plans to launch a pilot information center that will serve as a mechanism for lower-income economic actors to determine how the destroyed land is resettled and planned.

The shelters visited by Presidents Clinton and Bush were part of CHF International's Recovery Assistance for Southern Sri Lanka (RASSL) program, supported by USAID and private donors, which will provide at least 3,000 transitional shelters to displaced families in Galle and Matara, Sri Lanka within six months.

Founded in 1952, CHF International serves as a catalyst for long-lasting positive change in low- and moderate-income communities around the world, helping families improve their economic circumstances, environment and infrastructure. The organization provides technical expertise and leadership in international development, including critical emergency management following disasters and civil conflict. CHF has worked in over 100 countries worldwide since its inception.