19 February 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka: The Government of India in June 2010 announced that it would construct 50,000 houses as part of its post-conflict rehabilitation efforts. The Project is being implemented as full grant assistance amounting to USD 250 million (approximately SLR 30 billion) from the Government of India, making it one of the largest grant assistance projects ever undertaken by the Government of India, overseas. As a part of this programme, The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), an Implementing Agency appointed by the Government of India, has been facilitating the construction and repair of 18,000 houses in the Northern Province. UN-Habitat has to date supported 12,500 families to complete their houses and is expecting to complete all 18,000 houses by the end of 2015.
Commencing in October 2012, UN-Habitat is implementing the project in over 140 Grama Niladhari divisions in the districts of Mullaitivu, Killinochchi and Jaffna. Using a ’homeowner driven’ approach, the project assists families to actively participate in the construction of their houses. Homeowners plan, implement and monitor their own progress, while vital technical assistance including house plan designs, selection of skilled labour, quality building materials and support in solving land tenure issues are provided by UN-Habitat. The project is being implemented in close consultation with the Governmen t of Sri Lanka and other stakeholders, and the highest standards of objectivity and transparency are being followed, both for beneficiary selection and the payment mechanism.
Houses are constructed according to local authority guidelines and incorporate disaster risk reduction features to minimise the effects of natural disasters including monsoon rains and flooding. Environment-friendly construction methods are promoted, including stabilised earth blocks, fair-faced cement blocks, treated plantation timber and recycled building materials.
In addition, UN-Habitat provides construction skills training for youth and artisans, thereby enhancing their livelihood opportunities. The selected families are contributing their own labour towards the reconstruction efforts. Building materials are procured locally, wherever possible, promoting the revival of local economies. Communities are actively engaged in construction activities through Village Rehabilitation Committees, who monitor progress and provide assistance to vulnerable homeowners, including the bulk purchase of building materials through community bargaining and advice and assistance on construction activities. Communities are also being assisted to manufacture their own building materials, including concrete blocks and compressed stabilised earth blocks and are provided block making moulds and training. The role of women is actively promoted in all aspects of this project, particularly in decision making and financial control.
This project is helping thousands of families to fulfil their needs and expectations whilst ensuring a sense of ownership through a fully participatory process.