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Habitat Forms Rebuilding Scheme for Flood-swept Villages in Western India **** Youth Build 2005 Efforts to Include Flood Rebuilding

MUMBAI, 26th August 2005: Habitat for Humanity India has responded rapidly to the floods and mudslides that have devastated the western Indian state of Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai city, the financial center of India, putting together a plan to help 1,400 families rebuild their homes.

Picking up the pieces : a villager in Mahad seeks to salvage the remains of his home

Three scenes of devastation: rains and mudslides have ravaged parts of western India, but the real rebuilding must wait for the monsoon to end in October

These families live in Maharashtra’s Thane and Raigad districts, in up to five of the hundreds of villages where homes, livestock and crops were damaged or swept away by severe floods and mudslides in late July.

Estimates put the death toll at more than a 1,000, while at least 10,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.

The HFH India scheme includes repairs, renovations and new builds. It will expand upon the “Youth Build India 2005” project which was already scheduled to take place in the area in late October and early November.

Most of this effort will be concentrated around the communities of Mahad and Karjat in the district of Raigad.

Mahad is about 190 kilometers southeast of Mumbai, while Karjat is some 110 kilometers south.

Habitat for Humanity India is raising some US$1.5 million to help at least 1,000 families affected by the torrential rains that have inundated much of the western state of Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai city, the financial center of India.

The rains have been unusually heavy this year. Many families, dependent on subsistence rice farming, have lost their crops and face the prospect of food shortages in the coming months.

One of the most trying aspects of the situation is that because the rainy season continues through September, no rebuilding work can start until October.

In the meantime, thousands of families must survive in tents or patched-up houses with wet mud floors until things rebuilding can begin.

HFH India will go ahead with Youth Build, but hopes to mobilize more volunteers than originally planned. Instead of focusing on new builds, some Youth Build projects will be repairing and rehabilitating flood-damaged houses.

The two Habitat houses built as a pilot scheme for the Youth Build in Mahad in June survived the floods undamaged.

HFH India’s partner in this work, the Christian organization Jana Kalyan Trust, is likely to ask Habitat to expand its work in the area beyond the current three villages.

A survey of over 100 affected villages by Academy of Development Science, another Habitat partner organization, detailed the extent of the damage and the need.

At least 1,400 families from Katkari villages, a recognized tribal group, need better homes even though their structures had not actually collapsed in the rains. “Houses do not have proper foundations while the walls, flooring and roofing are in a bad shape, said the report.

Rains have caused further damage. The seepage of water through the mud flooring is so much that the moisture will be around for quite some time.”

“Numerous Katkari families are being denied a basic right as they face the daunting task of living in small, damp and wet houses,” the report added.

Among Thakur and Mahaadeo Koli communities, housing conditions are better, but damaged crops threaten livelihoods.