Housing Improvement Programme
Housing Improvement Programme
The Housing Improvement Programme is one of Tarayana’s flagship programmes and has had the maximum catalytic impact in bringing about positive changes in the rural communities. Tarayana implements “Holistic Rural Development” aka “Rukha Model” that is comprehensive in nature with housing improvement as the core element that catalyses collective socio-economic wellbeing within the community.
The Housing Improvement Programme was born out of necessity as every village the Foundation worked in faced the same situation. Without adequate shelter, it was difficult to help the communities help themselves. Community mobilization and consultations always pointed toward improved housing as a basic necessity. Taking care of this crucial aspect of their aspiration, the Foundation was able to bring about better self-help concepts to fruition; health, hygiene, education, livelihood and life skills, all started making more sense to the communities after they has accessed better shelter.
Tarayana facilitates the transfer of skills from master carpenters and masons to interested community members through apprentices. Through this initiative, the rural men and women were able to construct their own durable and comfortable houses, earn cash incomes from their newly acquired skills and enjoy improved quality of life.
Housing Improvement Process
Planning and Consultations: – The Programme, as well as Field Officers, spend an appreciable amount of time meeting with the community to fully understand their aspirations and needs. Resource mapping is undertaken for each village and local needs are discussed. The planning exercises help identify challenges and opportunities. Possible solutions are soul searched and implemented by the communities with Tarayana taking on a facilitation role. The community members form groups based on the size of village and draw lots to see whose house to be built first and prepares a roster.
Beneficiary villages are selected based on:
• National studies such as the Multidimensional Poverty Index, Bhutan Living Standards Survey Report, Poverty Analysis Report, and donor reports.
• The President’s firsthand experiences of people living in extreme poverty during the rural treks Her Majesty made as the Patron of Agriculture and Environment
• Request coming in from the village representatives and Districts
• Followed by ground truthing and site visits by our Programme and Field Officers
The next step is to liaise with the district authorities to understand the government’s development plans for the selected villages and communities. Tarayana undertakes several rounds of consultative meeting with communities to understand the issues and its causes and carries out exercises such as resource mapping, dream mapping to enable the community members to find solutions to their issues. Efforts are taken to ensure that local/traditional skills and knowledge are incorporated into the solution package so as to help preserve the local cultural heritage.
For the selection of households in each community, a local committee is formed comprising of representatives from the local government (Gup, Mangmi, Gewog Adm.Officer, any representative from the government’s extension agent), community representatives and Tarayana Field Officer.
A door-to-door survey is carried out in the presence of Chiwog Tshokpa, and selection of the beneficiaries is finalized based on the physical assessment made by the committee. The list of beneficiaries in need of immediate intervention then is submitted to the Foundation
Selection of House Design
The house designs are selected by the communities themselves based on the topography, climatic, cultural and artistic inclinations. The Foundation facilitates the processes and brings the community together to build these houses. The Foundation encourages the community to retain the aesthetics and inherent traditional features in efforts to preserve local cultural identity. The drawings are submitted to the gewog office, which will check to ensure that the houses are disaster resilient before they give their approval.
A Programme Officer with guidance from the head of the organization will coordinate the project activities from the Secretariat including liaising with various relevant stakeholders, procurement of materials, monitoring and reporting to the donor. The Field Officer will implement the activity in coordination with relevant stakeholders in the field. He/She will monitor the activities on a daily basis and report monthly to the secretariat. The Administrative Officer ensures that due diligence is followed in the procurement process and assist with official permits in relation to the project. The Finance Officer is responsible for ensuring the timely release of funds as well as the financial reporting of the project.
Numerous gains accrue through the housing improvement programme. The spacious and solidly constructed housing provides dependable insulation from cold and rainy weather, improving comfort, private space and overall health. Training community members in masonry and carpentry contribute towards the preservation of traditional artisanal techniques endows them with marketable skills and ensures that communities will be locally self-sufficient.
Finally – and this is a persistent theme reported by community members and Tarayana fieldworkers alike – the collaborative effort involved in constructing the houses effects a miraculous surge in social cohesiveness and community solidarity. The communication and teamwork skills that develop through this intensive and rewarding effort then permeate to all aspects of social life.
Most importantly, the confidence and self-esteem of the community members grow exponentially. As owners of modest homes, they are empowered to take active roles in the mainstream development programmes of their communities. Their access to credit improves with this new asset ownership and overall, their living standard improves making them productive citizens.
As of November 2018, Tarayana has extended the reach of this programme to facilitate the construction and improvement of 2000 houses in small rural villages across Bhutan. Details can be found below.