Building dignity through sustainable habitat development

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Building dignity through sustainable habitat development

India
Project Summary
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Most housing programmes, which are loan-based and provide only the dwelling unit, neglecting other critical elements, are out of reach for the poor. Gram Vikas is creating sustainable habitats for poor communities, on a 100% inclusion basis (every household within a village). We work with poor, rural communities of Orissa, India. We provide: A 450 sq.ft (min.) house with two well- ventilated rooms and a front verandah, a kitchen with a smokeless stove, piped water supply, toilet and shower. Activities include: ? Social mobilization phase: Starting with series of discussions, Gram Vikas entry into any village is subject to the community agreeing to make a financial commitment and creation of a corpus fund (average contribution $20 per household), with better-off paying more than the poor ones, enabling every family to obtain the same water supply and sanitation infrastructure. This step is the ?acid test? of the motivation of the community. The interest from the corpus fund is used strictly for the purpose of subsidizing toilets and showers for new houses that may come up in the future, ensuring 100% coverage at all times. ? Capacity building: The community is trained and supervised to establish piped water supply, toilets and showers for each household. Gram Vikas meets the cost of the external materials (cement, steel, doors etc.). This is accompanied by (a) creating village level institutions, which take the responsibility for the water and sanitation system to begin with, and eventually overall development, and (b) livelihood enhancement activities such as masonry and other skill development trainings, agro-forestry, community-emterprises etc. ? Creating housing infrastructure: All families, who do not have quality housing are encouraged to take housing loans etc. Where banks are reluctant to give loans directly to the poor, Gram Vikas takes group loans and on-lend to them (between $400? $800).

About You
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Your idea
Focus of activity

Community Involvement

Start Year

1992

Positioning in the mosaic of solutions
Main barrier addressed

Limited access to housing finance

Main principle addressed

Radically lower the cost of the entire housing delivery process

Social exclusion: Social exclusion is the bane of Indian society, with disadvantaged communities having been systematically marginalized for centuries, a malaise reflected in development programmes as well, which tend to focus on the better-off and more ?visible? sections of communities. Ensuring that housing programmes encompass the disadvantaged sections, remains a challenge. Comprehensive habitat development: The ?dwelling? is one of the many elements of a sustainable habitat. In rural India, 80% of all morbidity is caused by unsafe drinking water, which can be traced back to open defecation, and lack of sanitation infrastructure. Providing healthy, disaster- resistant, low-maintenance houses with hygienic water supply and sanitation systems affordable for the poorest is a challenge.

Innovation
Description of housing product/service offering:

Most housing programmes, which are loan-based and provide only the dwelling unit, neglecting other critical elements, are out of reach for the poor. Gram Vikas is creating sustainable habitats for poor communities, on a 100% inclusion basis (every household within a village). We work with poor, rural communities of Orissa, India. We provide: A 450 sq.ft (min.) house with two well- ventilated rooms and a front verandah, a kitchen with a smokeless stove, piped water supply, toilet and shower. Activities include: ? Social mobilization phase: Starting with series of discussions, Gram Vikas entry into any village is subject to the community agreeing to make a financial commitment and creation of a corpus fund (average contribution $20 per household), with better-off paying more than the poor ones, enabling every family to obtain the same water supply and sanitation infrastructure. This step is the ?acid test? of the motivation of the community. The interest from the corpus fund is used strictly for the purpose of subsidizing toilets and showers for new houses that may come up in the future, ensuring 100% coverage at all times. ? Capacity building: The community is trained and supervised to establish piped water supply, toilets and showers for each household. Gram Vikas meets the cost of the external materials (cement, steel, doors etc.). This is accompanied by (a) creating village level institutions, which take the responsibility for the water and sanitation system to begin with, and eventually overall development, and (b) livelihood enhancement activities such as masonry and other skill development trainings, agro-forestry, community-emterprises etc. ? Creating housing infrastructure: All families, who do not have quality housing are encouraged to take housing loans etc. Where banks are reluctant to give loans directly to the poor, Gram Vikas takes group loans and on-lend to them (between $400? $800).

Description of innovation:

The government?s housing programme for the poor is a grant of $500 to build a single room house, where often 2 to 3 generations are forced to live, eat and sleep in the same room - a concept repugnant to a civilized context. A contractor usually builds these houses without any participation of the clients. The uniqueness of our approach: ? 100% inclusion, where not one poor family is left out of water supply, sanitation and housing. ? Systematically creating enabling conditions (increasing incomes)that ensure that the poorest receive the same facilities as others. ? 60-70% cost contributed by the community. ? Reducing the drudgery of water collection for women and according them dignity and hygiene. ? 100% elimination of open defecation and its consequent impact on the quality of water and health. ? There is a mechanism for maintenance and to keep the 100% coverage of sanitation and water supply in future. ? Programme implemented on a large scale, implemented in 289 villages covering 22,347 households and a population of 124,148. We have empirical evidence of 85% reduction of water-borne diseases in these villages. ? Technical innovations in housing include: (1) Random rubble foundation with sand filling of the gaps (2) Rat trap bond and mud mortar, reducing brick and cement requirement and increasing insulation (3) Filler slab roof, where rejected roof tiles are placed between the steel bars, saving 40% concrete and 30% steel (4) Pointing the external brick joints with cement instead of cement plaster (5) Ferro cement door frames and doors, instead of wood The total cost of a 450 Sq ft house comes to ~ $1200 ($2.66 per Sq ft), entailing a saving of 60%, with no compromise in terms of strength, durability and aesthetic appearance. Since the family contributes all the labour and all local materials and some money, the loan component can be as low as $400 or a maximum of $800.

Benefits to clients:

Our delivery model inherently takes care of the marginalized populations. No village is taken up for implementation unless 100% households agree to be part of the water and sanitation programme, and the corpus fund is collected. Equal services for all:The poor and hitherto excluded get the same water and sanitation facilities as the rich. Once this happens, the poorer sections start aspiring for better houses(to match with the high quality toilets)than their existing ones. Enabling the poor to access housing finance:For the poor, we access housing loans(whom the banks do not finance directly)and on-lend to them, and for others, facilitate the process of direct housing loans from banks. Utilizing local resources:All households, who go in for houses, make bricks themselves and collect local construction materials. The process is slow and may take 2 years, but takes the whole village along together and ensures that poorest sections are not deprived of quality housing. Securing livelihoods for the poorest:All unskilled labourers-girls and boys-are trained as masons, who construct the toilets, showers, overhead water tank and houses. Many of these go on to become master masons, or successfully secure contracts for work in nearby urban centers. Additional income makes it easier for them to service housing loans. Utilizing external resources: After intense lobbying, the government has now agreed to a subsidy of $250 (for incomes below $640 p.a), which takes care of the housing loan repayment for first three years. For sanitation Gram Vikas accesses government programmes and other funding sources to access upto $70 for the cost of external materials. For well and overhead tank, government gives 60% of the total cost. The balance is met by the people, in form of labour and local materials. We also get government assistance for other developmental works like building village schools, community hall and drainage.

Key operational partnerships:

? Community: Being a community-led initiative, the most important partnership is with the people, who bear a large proportion of the programme responsibilities and costs. All families without exception who need housing are encouraged to avail housing loans. The poor, disadvantaged and the excluded are specially facilitated to get loans from banks and subsidy from the government. ? Government: The bulk of the financing for water supply, sanitation and housing for the poor is mobilized from government programs, and communities are capacitated through their registered committees to seek funds from government for further development activities. We have been appointed as the facilitating agency by the government to implement the water and sanitation programme as well as housing. ? Finance companies: Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), India and Stitching DOEN, Netherlands provided the loans. ? Donors:The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)covered the cost of personnel, training and overhead costs. Our partners BHP Billiton (Business)and the NGO funding agencies, ICCO, Netherlands, Christian Aid, UK and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, New Delhi provide us support for meeting part cost of sanitation, cost of personnel and overhead costs for sanitation and skill training. The partnerships have enabled us to pool in resources- technical, financial and human- which we would never be able to achieve alone.

Impact
Financial model:

? The loans are to be repaid in 15 years. During the first three years when the people are in the process of constructing their houses, they have little surplus for loan repayment. A subsidy of Rs. 12,500 takes care of this gap. ? Permanent housing enables families to save $30-$40 annually on thatching, which goes into servicing the loans. ? The unskilled labourers in a village are trained as masons, stone dressers, plumbers, etc. during the programme. These people have a ready market and earn 3 to 4 times, which further highers their capacity to repay loans. ? The corpus fund mechanism ensures that even the most disadvantaged are brought within the fold. The representation of women and the disadvantaged ensures that their interests are not overlooked at any juncture

Costs as percentage of income:

10%

Financing:

The initiative is financed through bank loans and government subsidy. Resources are accessed from various sources like government schemes, development donor agencies and private financial institutions to finance the cost of training of masons, operating costs and technical support. The sanitation initiative is supported partly by Government.60% of the cost of water supply infrastructure is met by the government, rest by the people. Beneficiaries contribute 60% of the cost of sanitation,40% for water supply,80% for housing(if the subsidy is considered). Loans for housing can be accessed. The government provides subsidies as part of the national policies. We are hopeful of greater government support and are lobbying for a turn key fee for the work done by the facilitating NGO.

Effectiveness:

<ul><li class="entry-label">Project outcomes: <span class="entry-text">Creating housing infrastructure is the second stage of our habitat development approach. So far we have assisted 3630 of families to build their houses. At the same time, there are 289 villages with 22,347 households and a population of 124,148 where we are in the preparatory stage, having completed the sanitation and water supply infrastructure for every family. Other outcomes: ? Reduction of incidence of water borne diseases by 85% ? High social and gender equity ushered in by 100% inclusion strategy ? Women?s drudgery of fetching water eliminated ? Enhanced internalisation of dignity by people especially women ? Capacity building and livelihood enhancement for over 2500 labourers, who have become skilled masons and increased their earning ability by 300-400%</span></li><li class="entry-label">Number of clients in past year: <span class="entry-text">? 5769 toilets and showers were constructed for 5769 families in 64 villages with round the clock water supply (something wrong with this number). ? The housing programme benefited 1362 families. ? 950 unskilled labourers were trained as professional masons. Gram Vikas a non-government organization is working since 1979 in partnership with the adivasis and marginalized communities in Orissa, one of the poorest states in India. As such, the majority of the clients of the housing programme falls under ?low income or marginalized? category. 61% of the beneficiaries in Sanitation and Water project are Below Poverty Line (BPL). 27% have an income above Rs.12,000 but below Rs.32,000 and 12% of the families are above Rs.32,000. 79.49% of the housing beneficiaries are BPL </span></li><li class="entry-label">Percentage of clients that are poor or marginalized: <span class="entry-text">79%</span></li><li class="entry-label">Potential demand: <span class="entry-text">As mentioned before, we do not promote housing in isolation, but are involved with a village only if 100% inclusion is assured. It is envisaged that by 2010, 100,000 families with a population of ~500,000 in about 1000 villages will benefit from the water and sanitation programme and by 2020, we will reach 1 million families benefiting ~5,000,000 people. In housing, we expect that by 2010, ~40,000 families will benefit and about 400,000 families by 2020. A consortium of like-minded NGOs in several states with support and assistance of the State and Central Governments and other agencies will accomplish this. A similar approach could be adopted by any developing country and hence can be replicated with modification in any developing country. The overall market size in India alone is more than 5 million.</span></li></ul>

Scaling up strategy:
Stage of the initiative:

<i>Scaling Up</i> stage.

Expansion plan:

Gram Vikas intends to scale up its comprehensive habitat programme in the six states adjoining Orissa by the beginning of 2007. In Orissa, we will continue to operate directly, but the thrust in the new states will be through other NGOs, who believe in such an approach. As HDFC is financing at 9% interest, we need to explore if cheaper credit is available for housing and explore ways to make housing banks directly finance the poor. We would like to pursue with the government to increase the housing subsidy for the poor to $300 and pay turn key fees for assisting these rural development efforts, so that our operations become more sustainable. We will also push the government to meet the total cost of the external materials for sanitation as a social cost. We will lobby with financing institutions to have a more pro- poor approach.

Origin of the initiative:

Gram Vikas has been working with adivasis(indigenous people also called tribals)since 1979. Initially when houses or entire tribal villages burned down in fire accidents, we constructed one-room houses under a total grant programme through the government. When we realised that two to three generations living, eating and sleeping all in one room was entirely unacceptable,we began a search for financing a more spacious livelable dwelling, which would be fire and cyclone resistant. The whole shift in thinking and the new mode of financing was led by Joe Madiath, a social entrepreneur and founder of Gram Vikas, who vehemently felt that the poor also need privacy as much as the rich and the poor are ready to make sacrifices to pay for healthy, disaster resistant, reasonably maintenance free houses. But some social costs have to be met by government and society at large.