Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Nonprofit to Launch Innovative Tsunami-Reconstruction Program

Leaders of Portland-based Rebuilding Community International (RCI) will introduce a pioneering sustainable-redevelopment program next week in Sri Lanka.

(OPENPRESS) August 31, 2005 -- “Our projects will have a lasting impact not only through reconstruction of communities, but through rehabilitation of livelihoods” said RCI Board member and native Sri Lankan Sadna Samaranayake. “We’re not just restoring structures, we’re creating economic strength, resilience, and hope within communities."

Rebuilding Community International is a pioneering disaster-relief nonprofit dedicated to providing devastated communities with volunteer building professionals to help restore structures, build self-sufficiency, and create an improving quality of life. Our logo (a “hand up”) symbolizes our vision: empowering survivors (through teaching, sharing resources, and building together) to rebuild their communities, preserve their environment, and attain enduring social and economic growth.

RCI’s innovative sustainable-redevelopment program helps devastated communities recover and thrive. Our unique approach both restores buildings and addresses the underlying conditions that make poor communities extremely vulnerable to natural hazards. RCI’s unique holistic approach integrates the best practices of disaster relief, including: collaboration to ensure efficient, appropriate solutions that produce economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress; cash-for-work and training programs that accelerate recovery and give hope to those who’ve lost livelihoods; sustainable planning and infrastructure development that safeguards natural resources; cost-effective mitigation that creates disaster resilience; green building to restore and protect the environment; new sustainable-business facilities to diversify and strengthen local economies and foster self-reliance; service-learning projects to help college students develop social responsibility and leadership skills; and accountability and transparency to enhance our effectiveness at translating good intentions into good results.

Given the considerable criticism of conventional disaster relief and the enormity of destruction in South Asia, UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Bill Clinton has appealed to relief agencies to innovate and “build back better.” Rebuilding Community International’s pioneering approach could be the model for the future that the international community envisions.

The cost for rebuilding an entire sustainable village in Sri Lanka (i.e., including a multi-use community center, 30 simple homes, a community school with playground, and a sustainable-business facility) is just $231,000. With basic furnishings, equipment, and supplies for one year, the cost of rebuilding of an entire community is about $258,000 (approximately the average cost of a home in Portland, Oregon).