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Social Housing

by deepak last modified 2010-01-20 18:20

social housingFacilitating a Life with Dignity for the Shelterless

Housing constitutes a very basic requirement for human survival. It assumes great significance for the rural poor in that it lays the foundation for a life of dignity and confers a distinct secure identity.  A secure and safe home with basic facilities of clean drinking water and sanitation is a stepping stone for development, enabling better health and confidence in economic pursuits. 

Every society has a responsibility to ensure the basic need of an adequate shelter to all its citizens.  The concept of social housing is born out of this basic human right.  Thus for the poor, who are unable to afford a decent shelter, the State provides minimal financial assistance necessary. For those who can save and build their own homes, the State is expected to facilitate, by way of making available  quality materials at affordable costs, skills for construction through local masons, technical guidance for planning and design of houses and infrastructure and credit where required on appropriate terms. 

According to Census 2001, the housing shortage in rural India is 148 lakhs.  This number is far higher if all those families who need to add additional rooms and upgrade their homes are considered. Addressing housing shortage is an important strategy for poverty alleviation in India.

For those below the poverty line and the most vulnerable in rural areas, assistance is provided by the Government of India through the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) scheme as part of the Bharat Nirman Programme. The scheme provides an assistance of Rs. 35,000 plus an additional option of a loan at 4 percent interest for an amount of Rs. 20,000 to below poverty line families.  The IAY scheme also lays emphasis on individual sanitation and health by incorporating the cost of a sanitary latrine and smokeless chulha into the grant.  The provision of land under the scheme for the landless has been made the responsibility of the state governments.  In addition, there are credit-cum-subsidy schemes that address persons above the poverty line. 

In addition to the challenge of providing for/facilitating adequate, safe housing for the shelterless, a greater challenge exists in doing this in a manner that is ecologically sustainable.  Thus technology and materials that lead to efficient use of material, energy and water resources are critical.  The National Institute of Rural Development and Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council provide technical guidance to village communities, Panchayats, and small entrepreneurs to promote the use of eco-friendly construction in rural areas. 

Rural households themselves, local artisans and local governments – the Panchayats are important stakeholders in the process.  A participatory approach to planning, design and construction of rural housing is thus the foundation for habitat development in rural areas.  This needs to be aided by technical guidance, information and knowledge about eco-friendly ways of development and construction and linked with local supply of materials and skills. Capacities of families through appropriate information, through exposure to different ways of working and of artisans through skill building are critical for developing sustainable habitat in rural areas. 

basin South Asia 2009 Designed and supported by OneWorld South Asia