Kosi Floods Rehabilitation

The Need:
In August 2008, a breach in the eastern Kosi embankment in Nepal released more than 3.7 million litres of water into Northern Bihar, flooding hundreds of villages in one of the worst humanitarian disasters the area has ever seen. Three million people were affected.

How we helped
Instituted correctly, sustainable housing could be a path to helping address dual problems of debt and compromised living conditions. An “Owner Driven Reconstruction” strategy is at the core of this approach.

SEEDS joined the Owner Driven Reconstruction Collaborative (ODRC) – a group of civil society organisations involved in facilitating house reconstruction for affected communities. The project was designed to ensure that capacity building occurs along with the construction of safer houses.

In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, eight hubs were established in the worst-affected areas across the districts of Supaul, Madhepura and Saharsa. The locations were selected for homeowner access (1 hub per three panchayats) and public places of importance. The hubs helped the government reconstruct almost 30,000 houses in the first phase of rehabilitation. The homes were built based on the bamboo design that was agreed upon by the government and validated by the community.

Instituted in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the hubs served to supply materials, monitor construction and train masons, promoting safe and sustainable housing in the region. At the same time, they serve as a base for advocacy with the government and other hubs.

Over time, the ODRC hubs expanded their value-added activities to include operating a health centre, school or anganwadi; organising cultural exchange events; running regular skill enhancement workshops; and providing information on developmental schemes.

Leaving a Mark
The Kosi floods were the first time that owner-driven reconstruction was done on such a large scale. The owner-driven reconstruction collaborative (ODRC) continues to function and SEEDS remains an active part.