On August 6, 2010, an unprecedented flash flood hit the ecologically fragile region of Leh, Ladakh. Buildings and houses were destroyed, communication lines were snapped and highways were washed away. In just a matter of two weeks, the death toll had reached to about 200 in addition to which 400 were missing. Adding to this, the families affected by this disaster would have to face a harsh winter in just a couple of months.
This is the situation into which SEEDS had stepped in. Our vision was to build safe, comfortable & environmentally friendly, and sustainable houses for the affected families to help them survive the approaching winter. Together with the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG), we developed a shelter response strategy that combines the environmental, cultural, temporal, and risk reduction needs of the community given the condition and context they were in.
After careful planning and extended discussions with all the stakeholders (households, local authorities, the government), a strategy was developed and then executed. Under this strategy, 35 permanent shelters and 2 community centres (in Sakti and Igoo) were constructed, using local materials and designs which based on traditional houses of those locations. A weather station was also constructed in the community centre, so as to increase the preparedness of the community. Keeping with our vision of building self-sustaining resilient communities, a people centric construction method was adopted. During the project, about 200 masons (skilled and semi-skilled) were trained on safe construction practices using local material, 1000 children from 10 selected schools were trained towards disaster management and preparedness, and 10 selected schoolteachers were trained through a global course on risk education.