Home / Issues / Development

Rebuilding Tsunami Affected Communities in Sri Lanka

Company: BASF
Sector: Chemicals
Headquarters: Germany
Partners: UN-Habitat
Partnership location: Sri Lanka


In response to the 2004 tsunami disaster, BASF carried out a worldwide employee donation campaign matched by the company, which resulted in the collection of 3.8 million Euros. To dispense the funds, the BASF Social Foundation selected partner organizations, including the  main project decided to work together with UN-HABITAT because of the Agency’s long-standing reputation for rebuilding and revitalising communities affected by natural disasters. BASF and UN-HABITAT had already been in dialogue since 2003, and the two organizations had collaborated during the World Urban Forum in 2004. In April 2005, a formal partnership agreement was announced during UN-HABITAT’s 20th Governing Council. Based on this relationship, the partners decided to combine their efforts in sustainable disaster relief and reconstruction for tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka.


The partnership between UN-HABITAT and BASF began with a joint assessment mission in Sri Lanka, which identified the needs in affected areas. Small-scale fishing communities are among the poorest segments of the country’s population and this assessment led to the development of a project geared towards these communities. Together, UN-HABITAT and BASF decided to build a new fish market and restaurant complex in Galle, a town on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, in order to replace the infrastructure that had been destroyed by the tsunami. UN-HABITAT has broad experience and profound competencies in reconstructing homes and community infrastructure, settlement planning and disaster preparedness. It thus forms an integral part of the United Nations’ inter-Agency efforts to promote a smooth transition from humanitarian relief to long-term recovery and rehabilitation. Throughout its activities, UN-HABITAT promoted a community-driven approach, bringing the affected families into the centre of the recovery process. BASF supported these efforts with funding and know-how. In addition to the financial resources of BASF Social Foundation, BASF and its partners provided technical and construction expertise to enable intelligent and sustainable solutions for reconstruction 


The investment in a new fish market was intended to serve as a catalyst to create employment, support the local fishing fleet, afford vocational training, promote tourism and eventually enhance the well-being of the entire fishing community. In this way, the initial investment in physical facilities has a multiplier effect for employment and income within the fishing community. In a broader sense, the project represents an upgrade for the economic infrastructure of the City of Galle and increases the city’s revenues.

The partnership between BASF and UN-HABITAT has proven that an effective and efficient response to the humanitarian, recovery and development challenges of today require the multiple capacities and united strengths of complementary partners, such as the private sector and the United Nations. BASF itself benefited from the partnership through its exposure to the competencies and successful business models employed by UN-HABITAT. Additionally, BASF and UN-HABITAT are continuing to collaborate on environmental technology, low-cost housing technology, housing finance models as well as public-private partnerships and business models as a sustainable tool including in the field of humanitarian intervention.

(Source: Joining Forces for Change: Demonstrating Innovation and Impact through UN-Business Partnerships, UN Global Compact Office 2007).

(Last Update: 2 January 2009)