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Habitat’s Home Repairs Project Brings Hope To Slum Residents In Delhi

Discipleship Centre partners with Habitat in a separate 150-house project in Rajasthan

DELHI, 19th October 2006: For the thousands of people who used to live in a slum near the Indian capital Delhi, relocation was an unsettling affair. Many could not afford to build a new house in the Madanpur Khadar resettlement colony and continue to live in temporary shelters amid unhealthy conditions.

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Run-down: One of the temporary shelters in Madanpur Khadar

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Human chain: Manipur Christian Fellowship volunteers passing cement for roof repair

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Human chain: Manipur Christian Fellowship volunteers passing cement for roof repair

Things started to improve since May 2006 when Habitat and its partner Discipleship Centre, a Christian non-profit organization, began renovating some of the houses in Madanpur Khadar. A total of 19 houses have been renovated out of the 33 houses targeted by the end of 2006. The Save & Repair program is used in this project in which residents formed groups to save towards the cost of repairs.

Other than home partners who have been contributing labor to repair their and others’ homes, volunteers such as the Manipur Christian Fellowship have been chipping in too. Leishishang Sareng, 19, who went with the Manipur group to Madanpur Khadar to repair the roof of a house, said he relished being able to help improve the home partners’ lives.”

Madanpur Khadar, about 25 km. from the city centre, is home to 15,000 families who are relocated from slums around the commercial complex Nehru Place in south Delhi. The slum settlers used to work as cleaners, sweepers, office helpers and laborers. The Delhi Development Authority relocated many of the slum settlers around Nehru Place to Madanpur Khadar where each family is allotted 10 sq. m. of land.

Many of the residents continue to live in unsafe temporary shelters long after they moved into Madanpur Khadar, simply because they had no means of improving their houses. A lack of electricity, clean water, and sanitation and sewerage facilities worsened their living conditions. It does not help that many houses have neither foundations nor side walls and are prone to being flooded since Madanpur Khadar is situated in a low-lying area.

Habitat and Discipleship Centre hope to complete 120 houses in Madanpur Khadar by the end of the project in 2008.

An established Habitat partner, Discipleship Centre is a 28-year-old Christian organization that aims to empower the poor and the marginalized in India. It has been working in various Delhi slums for over a decade. Previously the Discipleship Centre has partnered with Habitat to build 69 houses for earthquake victims in Somaiwandh village in Kutch, Gujarat. It also collaborated with Habitat in the tsunami recovery projects in the affected state of Tamil Nadu.

Local women self-help group Mahila Mandal is assisting Discipleship Centre in assessing the state of a house in Madanpur Khadar whenever a home owner approaches Habitat for assistance. Mahila Mandal also looks into whether a home owner has the ability to keep up with loan repayments. In addition, the self-help group monitors the progress of the residents in education, financial management and social development.

Separately, Habitat and Discipleship Centre held an inauguration ceremony for a 150-house project in Dausa district in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan recently.

Life is hard in Karnawar village which receives little rainfall since it lies in a semi-arid region in Rajasthan. The village headman, Subodhi Ram Meena, who is the chief guest at the ceremony, said “the lack of water has condemned these innocent victims to a life of degrading poverty from which they see no respite”.

The houses measure about 17 sq. m. in size. They are of one-room design with stone for the foundation and walls, and red sandstone slabs for roofing.

The 150 houses are expected to be completed by June 2007.