The Collective Approach for housing the poor – a sign of hope for the entire community!
Ram Bahadur Biswakarma, 55, is a resident of a dalit community in Laharepauwa Ward 9 of Rasuwa District. These days he is busy working for building his own house which was completely destroyed by the Earthquake on April 25, 2015. "The weather on the day of the earthquake was gloomy. Suddenly the ground shook. We tried to escape and reach above at the highway but I fell down at the bush," Ram Bahadur recalled. He added, "I was worried for my younger son who was inside the house. I managed to get up and reach towards my house. It was totally collapsed. My son was safe but badly injured. He has gone through his leg surgery twice."
Most of the houses in the community were collapsed. Even the house of the elder son of Ram Bahadur which was completed just two weeks before the earthquake collapsed. Immediately after the earthquake, the whole community took their shelter in the Village Development Committee office. Later they managed to build the temporary shelter and were living a very hard life.
The family of Ram Bahadur is just an example. There are around 80 households in Laharepauwa ward 9 listed as the earthquake affected families, whose houses were completely damaged, by National Reconstruction Authority. Of the 80 families enlisted by the NRA, 38 families in the ward are interested to work with LUMANTI. The living conditions of 38 families, all belonging to Dalit community, are very deplorable and were not able to invest any funds for the construction of their house. Neither they have extra land nor do they have good source of income to rebuild their home. With the first installment of the government grant, rebuilding their home is next to impossible as don't have adequate income to invest so that they can request for the next installment. The community approached LUMANTI with a modality where collective effort of the community would be used for addressing the housing needs of the earthquake affected families among 38 families in the ward.
Realizing the poor economic condition of those households, Lumanti Support Group for Shelter, in line with the government directives for releasing the installment and at the same time adopting communal approach, defines the new way of implementing the housing program there which is the combo of government and community approach. Several consultation meetings were conducted with the families. In the beginning, only 13 families had agreed to the approach for reconstruction of their houses. However, as the work progressed, more families started approaching Lumanti for support.
As per the directives of the government, the affected families opened the individual bank account in the government recommended bank where Lumanti deposited the amount equivalent to the grant as an advance or say guarantee fund with the formal understanding between Lumanti, bank and the account holder. The account holder is not entitled to draw the money from the account.
Specific mechanism has been developed for the supply of the construction materials. The community representatives are selected from the community meeting for the decisions in favour of the community. Community representatives along with Lumanti team explore the suppliers in the market and coordinated for the supply of adequate construction materials for the smooth construction process. The construction materials has been purchased in bulk and distributed as per the need of the individual households. The technical person from LUMANTI ensures the quality of the material received from the supplier identified by the community representatives. The payment for the supplier is then transferred directly from the account holder's account as per the list of construction materials that the households received.
As the first phase of the construction, out of 38 poor families, 9 families are currently rebuilding their home, more are willing to join the process. Lumanti has mobilized the local mason trained by Lumanti itself to ensure the quality construction. Ram Bahadur Biswakarma is one of the masons who have received mason training from Lumanti. With the implementation of the collective approach of the government and community, the rebuilding of the houses for ultra-poor families have become possible in the dalit community of Laharepauwa ward 9. The model will be replicated in the other wards where LUMANTI is currently working. The collective approach for rebuilding the houses of the poor has become a sign of hope for the entire community.