U.S. Trade and Development Agency

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT:  Donna Thiessen 

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Over $2 Million in Grants Awarded for Communications, Water and Transportation


COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – (September 19, 2005     ) Today, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) awarded $2,095,000 for tsunami-related reconstruction efforts related to emergency communications, water, and transportation in Sri Lanka.  The funding is comprised of five separate grants signed by the Ministry of Finance and Planning that will support the efforts of the Sri Lankan government to rebuild and improve infrastructure in the damaged districts following the December 2004 tsunami.


The grants were conferred in a signing ceremony held at the office of the Secretary of Ministry of Finance and Planning.  U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead and Sri Lankan Secretary for the Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. P.B. Jayasundera signed for the U.S. and Sri Lankan governments, respectively.


The first grant, in the amount of $491,000, will provide funding for a feasibility study to assess the viability of a piped sewerage and sanitation infrastructure system in the coastal cities of Sri Lanka.  Currently, there are no such systems in the tsunami-affected areas along the coast.  The short-term solutions used to clear wastewater have resulted in pollution of the local environment, and the Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply (MUDWS) requested this assistance to develop a long-term solution that will not have detrimental environmental consequences.  The USTDA-funded study will provide the MUDWS with the information necessary to identify the best system to meet the sanitation and sewerage infrastructure needs of the country’s tsunami-affected areas.  MUDWS will competitively select a U.S. firm to conduct the study.


The water needs of local communities impacted by the tsunami will be addressed by a second USTDA grant that will partially fund technical assistance for a solar powered community water supply pilot project in the Hambantota district of Sri Lanka.  The MUDWS has requested that WorldWater & Power Corporation of Pennington, New Jersey conduct the technical assistance for a pilot project to provide safe drinking water on a sustainable basis for approximately 3,090 households (roughly 14,000 people).  In addition to the $356,000 USTDA grant, WorldWater & Power Corporation is contributing additional resources toward the completion of this technical assistance and pilot project, which are expected to lead to a nationwide implementation of water supply projects in Sri Lanka. 


The third USTDA grant, totaling $475,000, to the Ministry of Transport, will address Sri Lanka’s transportation needs in the wake of the tsunami through a study examining how transportation linkages between Colombo and the southern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka can be improved.  The study will evaluate the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the transportation links and recommend modal- and sub-sector-specific measures to improve the transportation sector’s performance and contribution to the region’s economy.  The Ministry of Transport will advertise this project among U.S. firms interested in the opportunity to conduct the study.


In the communications sector, the Disaster Management Center (DMC) was awarded a $375,000 grant for technical assistance related to information and communications technology (ICT) systems.  The DMC is a new organization that will:  coordinate data and analysis in real-time from each of the Sri Lankan government’s technical departments and agencies; determine the national response strategy to emergencies; and serve as the central point of crisis information dissemination.  The USTDA-funded technical assistance will provide overall strategies, best practices, capacity building and baseline ICT systems to support the DMC in its command control role.  The DMC will competitively select a U.S. firm to provide the technical assistance.


The fifth grant from USTDA, valued at $398,000, will provide technical and capacity-building assistance to the Department of Meteorology (Met Department) related to an early warning system for disasters.  The Met Department is responsible for tracking and notifying the public in Sri Lanka about potential weather emergencies and other hazards.  The proposed project seeks to improve the Met Department’s data collection and decision-making infrastructure, thereby improving response times to inform the public of national emergency situations.  The Met Department will compete the opportunity to provide the technical assistance among interested U.S. firms.


This year, USTDA has identified 17 projects related to tsunami reconstruction efforts in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India that are eligible for potential grant funding by the agency.  These projects amount to over $6 million in collaborative efforts in the energy, emergency communication, transportation, and water and the environment sectors that offer significant opportunities for U.S. commercial involvement.


The competitive contracting opportunities associated with the USTDA grants awarded today will be announced on the Federal Business Opportunities website at  U.S. firms should submit proposals according to the instructions contained in the Federal Business Opportunities announcement.  Each project sponsor will select the U.S. firms that will provide the USTDA-funded assistance.


The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries.  The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment.  USTDA’s strategic use of foreign assistance funds to support sound investment policy and decision-making in host countries creates an enabling environment for trade, investment and sustainable economic development.  In carrying out its mission, USTDA gives emphasis to economic sectors that may benefit from U.S. exports of goods and services.