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SEEDS’s flood resilient houses continue to save lives

The state of Assam in the Brahmaputra valley of North East India is exposed to multiple hazards of seismic, flood and cyclone to a critical extent. The ‘Assam-type’ buildings are unable to perform due to intensified calamities and advanced construction technologies are yet to penetrate among the population living below poverty line. However, the concept of ‘Chang Ghar’ (named in Assamese) built on bamboo stilts or wooden poles is an adaptation of the indigenous Mising tribe of Upper Assam. These houses serve the dual purpose of keeping floodwaters and wild animals at bay.

With time the concept is demolishing. SEEDS intervention in Golaghat district of Assam has created a larger impact in the Mising community. Usage of concrete materials and better technologies has made the dwellings stronger against flood. Huoni Dau, one of the community member mentions, “It has been around 2 years our shelter is facing floods, cyclone but the house built by SEEDS is still intact and has been saving us all these years. Earlier, we used to evacuate to the roads and lived in tents and temporary shelters for months during floods, now we do not feel the necessity to shift. We strongly feel that our shelter is resilient enough to face the flood”. The Mising community and the adjacent communities are now understanding the importance of such a structure.

Notwithstanding the recent trends, the adaptation of ‘Chang Ghar’ can provide important insight in flood preparedness and resilience and can be effective in developing a community-based approach for flood management.