Humanitarian Assistance for Assam floods 2012

The Need
Three waves of intense floods across Assam in August- September 2012 left the communities with a trail of destroyed homes. This reconstruction project emphasised shelter restoration through material and knowledge support; adopting an owner-driven approach.

How we helped
Through a careful assessment process, 300 of the most marginalised families were selected across 45 villages spread through five blocks of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts.

The design integrated knowledge of shelter work we had done in the flood plains of Bihar and Odisha. Using bamboo as the primary material, it allowed for the super structure to be dismantled. This could then be set up in a safe location as temporary structure during floods. At the same time, the plinth level was kept high and the foundations further strengthened with RCC pillars.

Coping capacities were enhanced in several ways. 311 local masons and 16 volunteers were trained on safe construction practices using local materials. Active participation in the rebuilding was also expected from the home owners themselves. 250 fully damaged and 50 partially damaged homes that were built back through this approach. Each household was given a toolkit (standard equipment to dismantle and assemble the shelter) and a specially-created technical manual that explained the nuances of safe construction.

Finally, the process also tried to account for lost income; providing access to 50 days’ worth of income at Rs. 136 per day through a cash transfer programme as well as livelihood & agriculture support.

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