Kennedy Dhanbalan, email@example.com
is a national relief and development organisation, and has been involved in
relief work for the Earthquake victims at Gujarat. EFICOR is continuing its
involvement through rehabilitation programs in the area. EFICOR in partnership
with Development Alternatives is planning to reconstruct the houses in the three
villages namely Vira, Bitawaladia (East) and Bitawaladia (West) in Anjar taluka,
There are three main stakeholders in the rehabilitation process. Firstly, it is the community. Secondly, the Government and thirdly the NGO/s who are operating in the area. The NGOs will play an important role in the process.
This paper is a reflection on the experiences in Gujarat as we start the ground work for the rehabilitation phase. It reflects the conflicts we are facing and derives certain learnings.
1. In doing the rehabilitation work the important thing is to ensure that the community are part of the planning and decision making. We recognize the community as the primary stakeholders and the role of the government and the NGOs as supportive. It is important that the community is taken into confidence in designing the houses and other infrastructure.
2. Ensuring community participation through representation of various socio economic sections will be a precondition for designing, planning, site and material selection, material procurement, construction, and utilization of resources.
3. Involving women in the discussions and incorporating their views into the designing of the houses and other infrastructure will be important. Most of the time they are left out of important discussions and we wish to reverse this trend.
4. Whenever possible, conduct separate meetings with each section of the community to get their views, and ensure that the views of weaker sections are valued and taken into account adequately.
5. Ensure that the earthquake-affected members of the community are given the top priority in skilled and unskilled livelihood opportunities arising during the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. In doing this, EFICOR is also exploring possibilities of training the local people, thus building their capacities to make available building materials (e.g.: hollow and concrete blocks) in the village itself. This will enable the community to access construction materials, as well as man power with technical expertise in case the community wants to extend houses in future.
6. Political affiliations to be looked into in the community, as this may affect the program. Leaders of each party should be taken into confidence.
1. The traditional construction means, methods, and materials will be taken into account. These could be forgotten with the anvil of modern construction technologies and material.
2. In reconstruction, the choice of technology will be based on multiple criteria, including self-reliance of the community, availability of the material, and earthquake resistant characteristics.
3. In building the houses, the cultural pattern of housing will be taken into account.
4. The socio–cultural and economic aspects are being looked into. The government regulations have given different packages for different classes. This hinders the process of NGO involvement in bringing social equality and justice into the rehabilitation. EFICOR advocates the same in the coordination meetings, and is striving to work towards it.
1. The government should make clear policies based on learning from the past experiences.
2. There should also be complete transparency and accountability from the government in the planning process.
3. Community’s right to information on the government regulations should be ensured. In doing this, government officials should be made available to work along with the NGOs in sharing the information with the community.
4. The government should also publish regularly, the decisions made, in the leading newspaper in vernacular languages.
5. The difference from Latur experience and here is that, the government of Gujarat has come out with different packages for the villagers on class basis, which does affect the social equality. This could have been done differently.
6. The government also should take into confidence the NGOs who are working in the area while bringing in changes in policy decisions. Certain decisions taken by the government has brought in adverse impact on the work of the NGOs.
1. The Government has given two options for the villagers in reconstruction.
2. They could either relocate themselves in a new area, or rebuild in the same place. But a problem is faced since few families prefer to stay put in the old site itself. We are putting before the government a third alternative. That is, relocation of the village if the majority of families prefer that, and in the case of few families who wish to rebuild in the old place itself, that too should be allowed. Land will be made available to the families who are relocating in the new site and only their land in the old site could be taken over by the government.
3. In relocation, each community in the village should be taken into confidence for relocation. There are conflicting views in the villages about relocation. In certain villages the community wants to move out from the original village site as they have lost their dear ones in that place and want to shift. In others, various views prevail. They want to stay as the land allocated by the government in the new site is small, or they have sentimental attachment to the land, which belongs to their forefathers. Some others have certain structures which are not fallen, and which they want to use. These views have to be taken into account while planning for relocation.
4. The scheduled castes, schedules and nomadic tribes, other socially and economically backward class communities, should be protected against land alienation.
5. There are strong caste feelings in the community. This has to be taken into consideration while designing the village. If overlooked it could create tension in the community.
6. In designing the villages, we need to take into consideration the cluster method rather than the linear model, which is normally preferred by NGOs. Its time consuming but a worthy exercise which gives social stability and support in the community.
The author is Programme Coordinator, Relief and Rehabilitation, EFICOR