ECHO-Shelter Prototype Case Study: Khagaria, an integrated Rehabilitation and Disaster Preparedness for flood affected population of 20 villages in Bihar State, India.
· Name of the Humanitarian Organisation: Caritas Germany
· Name of the Implementing Humanitarian Organisation: Caritas India
· Name of the Implementing Agency: Muzzafarpur Diocesan Social Service Society
· Name of the Targeted District for the Intervention: Khagaria
· Name of the Block: Khagaria
· Name of the Panchayat: Sansarpur
· Name of the Village: Hardaschak [Revenue village]
· Population: 1318
· No of Families: 570
· Name of the RCW: Mr. Moni Kumar
· Name of the activity: Shelter Construction
CONSTRUCTION IN KHAGARIA
My name is Mr. Kasim shah, and I am a resident of Hardaschak Muslim Tola. My age is around 50 yrs. I have three children. I work as a labour in the nearby vicinity of Khagaria. Almost all the members from my family are depend on me financially. [“mera nam kasim hai, main yaha barsose reh raha hun, barsose ise gaon main gram sabha tak nahi hui, aap hamare gaon mai asha ka kiran lekar aye hai”]
Now I have become very old and find difficult to drive an auto. My children could not complete their education because no basic facilities are available in our village. We are from lower caste hence we stay away from the upper caste Tola.
“Badh ne hamari jindagi tabha kar del ke.’ [Floods have destroyed our life]. Flood is an unwelcome guest. We are already sphered with various issues concerning to our lives. These issues are like unemployment, poverty, and lack of education and health facilities. Flood is a phenomenon which has always added our difficulties.
We do not get proper food, shelter and even cloths during these days. Somehow we manage the situation but it becomes worst for women and children. In my family women use to go for defecation in the open field. The kind of humiliation they have faced from the upper caste group was beyond belief. Earlier we used to accommodate ourselves in the community shelter during flood times but that is also being destroyed in this floods. “Ye badh mai toh wo bhi tut gaya”.
“Pichli bar hamar admi ke sap kant lel kai , okara ke Khagaria nay le ja pailiye okara chalet hamar admi maral gay, Hamara sab kuch bah gayal, bhais gayal”.
Complex Era It was an extremely thorny time for me and my family. Because we were in the very front of the river our house was badly hit by the water. Our tola was in the most vulnerable conditions. We as a family were trying to fight the odds. I had no idea how and for what duration of time I could fight this battle. The monster of needs was standing in front of us. We were not able to prioritize our needs.
All the needs were equally important. At that time we could survive because of relief provided by different organizations. We were not knowing the names of the organizations but only knowing that relief has come and we should grab it. When we received relief we found that it was packed in heavy bags and we were not having place to keep these luggage and to save ourselves.
Hence I was desperate to find a shelter between my head and the open sky, where I could be with my children and other family members. We were floating in the water almost for two weeks. During that time we were striving for our survival. After two weeks we could manage to find the safe place for us. We managed to get Tarpaulin from which we could manage to build a temporary shelter for us. Currently we are staying in the same.
At this juncture, when I was clueless and helpless father from the church reached to our village. They tried to dialogue with us. They tried to understand our problems and conducted several meetings with us. They also conducted survey to find our problems and details of our village.
They shared a plan with us of building of a shelter. I felt it is really a gift from God. We all have heard of God, but this is the first time I saw him at work. In the initial phase of this activity substantial time was spent by the staff of the church which made us to tie a bond with them. The survey was conducted for the finalization of the list of beneficiaries.
This list was prepared in consultation with us and our panchayat members. This list was again verified by the padri ki sanstha. After finalization and verification of the list, the list was shared with us in a common meeting. In this meeting approval was taken from the people for the confirmation of the beneficiary list. After completion of this activity sanstha representatives did the verification of the available land. Actual measurements were taken from the identified places. After that the decision was taken in the common meeting that my house [shelter] construction would start in the beginning.
After completion of my house we will have a meeting and finalise the structure of house. Or if necessary we would provide our suggestions or necessary changes. At the time of initiation of this construction we formed a village shelter committee among ourselves. This committee would work on a temporary basis. The committee consists of us, [men and women from said households], ward member, residential community worker of “padri sanstha” and known person from our village like Yadavji. Following activities were finalised that the committee would perform following activities:
To monitor the construction work
To ensure the security of the material purchased
Identification of labour and through promotion of cash for work activity
To maintain the available stock
To resolve the disputes
Management of labour
Through these committees we are taking care of the concern activities of the shelter. We all come together and participate actively in the whole thing. As a part of this committee we have played active role in terms of settling disputes among ourselves.
E.g.: we are three beneficiaries staying in the same tola. My land and Mr. Doman Shah’s land is in one line. We share common land. We both were not getting enough land for the shelter construction. The third beneficiary was not ready to give small part of land for our shelter construction. This dispute was placed in front of this shelter committee. With the help of Mr. Yadav and intervention of our committee we could resolve this problem.
Now I am waiting to complete this structure, which would provide roof for me and my family, which will protect our family from the hot scorching sun in the summers and devastating floods of coming months. This shelter would help us to recover from the worst condition and showed us new hope for a better future. I was amazed to see the concern of padri ki sans than which they had shown towards us.
Challenges faced during implementation of the project
Prototype Construction is taking more time than the expectations. This type of shelter is new for us as well as for the construction workers. Thus the construction workers are also taking time to understand the integrities of the construction process. We are feeling little insecure about the shelter because we have never seen it earlier. Due to this construction we are out of the house from many days.
When the technical team did the verification of the available land It was found that the expected size of the land was not available. We have very minimal land. In that land we have four to five brothers who also are the share holders of the same land. Hence there are difficulties to build shelter of this type. This situation is ending into disputes among our brothers.
Due to more or less equal economic- socio conditions of people it is difficult for us to make rest of people understand that why they are not being selected. In the initial phase there was no much clarity about the criteria followed for the selection of beneficiary. This created more confusion among us.
We cook food on “CHULHA’. How we will use CHULHA in this kind of house. This house has given coat of coal, which is prone to get fired. If by mistake fire comes in a contact with this coal then entire house will be burned. Hence we are scared to cook food in it. The height of the shelter is touching the electricity wire, which is again prone to get fired. Hence we do not feel comfortable and safe in this kind of shelter.
If we all beneficiaries come together and try to develop more coordinal relationship with the respective government functionaries and PRI members and people who have some influence in the village, it would help us in terms of getting more support from them.
If relaxation is given in terms of finalizing the size of the land as per its availability it will make the construction procedures easier. Need to organize several meetings with the community and with us about its reliability and ways to handle it. The kind of care we need to take when we are going to use this shelter.
It looks like that this type of shelter construction is time consuming and also enough money is being spent in it. If the concrete shelter is being builted then it would be permanent for us. Also the number of members would stay in the concrete shelter would be more than this bamboo shelter.
Height is being finalised from the roadside. But considering ground level the height of the shelter is reaching to approximately 6ft. The steps to climb would be prepared by Bamboo, which does not seem to be safe. The height of the house is very high, which is impractical for the old age people and for children to climb while entering in to the house.
If we are given money for the material then we are ready to provide labour to build our own houses. The shelter is being planned that way where it won’t be possible to accommodate all the family members. This type of shelter is consuming lot of place where as in the same available land two concrete houses can be built.
Shelter is not fire proof. Tar coal is being used for the safety purpose of the Bamboos. As community is used to cook food outside the house they will do it in the nearby areas. Hence it can be fired very easily. Training should be provided on the same lines Balcony is being provided to all sides of the shelter. The shelter is already is being very small in size. People do not have place to stay. Hence it is unrealistic to give balcony in the shelter structure. These shelters are very easy to destroy.
This program is managed by Caritas India and implemented by local coordinating partner Seva Sadan together with local operating partners. People are very happy that this kind of assistance is being provided to them. But looking at socio economic conditions of all the villagers is almost same. Hence it was a difficult task to finalise list of beneficiaries. There are mix reactions about the shelter. Hence in the further activities important issues shared by the beneficiaries should be taken into consideration.