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HFH India Continues Rebuilding Homes For 72 Flood-Affected Families In Bihar

Flood Response Includes Livelihood Assistance Such As Livestock Rearing And Tailoring

BIHAR, 2nd September 2010: Habitat for Humanity India has completed housing units for 20 flood-affected families in Bihar state in the country’s northeast.


Each 23-square meter duplex built by Habitat in Jorgama village, Bihar, India, will house two families. All photos by Mikel Flamm.


One of the damaged houses in Jorgama.


Kalsi Devi, with her grandson Pinki, looks forward to living in a healthier environment when she moves into her Habitat house.


Both Bindu Devi and her brother-in-law Lalosah lost their family members when the floods hit Bihar. Lalosah is working with Habitat to rebuild homes in Jorgama.

It will continue with its rebuilding effort to house a total of 72 families in Jorgama village by end of November. The village in Bihar state, one of the poorest in India, was badly affected when the Kosi River near Nepal burst its banks in August 2008.

HFH India’s resource center in New Delhi is building a total of 36 duplexes housing 72 families in Jorgama village. Each two-story duplex measures about 23 square meters and comes with a kitchen with a toilet built outside.

Habitat’s partners include Church of North India, a local non-government organization, and Hindustan Unilever, a consumer goods company headquartered in Mumbai, western India. The partners are providing livelihood opportunities to another 300 families via an animal husbandry or poultry rearing project. The first 100 families will be given either a goat or a cow or several chickens.

The remaining 200 families are expected to receive livestock or poultry if the first beneficiaries’ are successful with their livestock breeding. Meanwhile, there are plans to train affected families in sewing or tailoring skills.

The 72 families to be helped were among the multitudes whose homes were swept away by floods which inundated Bihar and two other Indian states after a breach in the Kosi River’s embankment near Nepal forced the river to change its course, for the first time since the 1950s.

Families were living at temporary shelter camps set up by the government in open fields or by the roadside.

Fifty-one-year-old Kalsi Devi has been living in a temporary shelter since the flood destroyed the house which she shared with her son Sachin and his family.

Although she has recovered from leprosy, she is dependent on Sachin due to her limited mobility. Together with his family, they used to live in a small house with a dirt floor that became very muddy in the rainy season. “It was hard on Sachin’s four children who would easily get sick.”

But life is looking up. “I look forward to being in a good, secure house with a cement floor that is clean. This makes me happy,” said Kalsi.

Lalosah and his sister-in-law Bindu Devi are also among those affected by the August 2008 floods which destroyed homes, shut down railways and caused landslides.

“We had no warning of the flood waters so we were taken by surprise when the waters as high as 2-3 meters came into our villages,” recalled Lalosah.

Both Lalosah’s family and his sister-in-law’s family were stranded for several days in the house which they shared until a rescue boat came to Jorgama.

Lalosah asked his mother and other relatives to go aboard while Bindu, her husband and four daughters waded through the waters to the boat. Just as Bindu and her family got on the boat, the engine died and the boat overturned amid the fast-flowing waters.

“We were close to the bamboo trees so I told them to jump off the boat and grab the trees…I grabbed hold of the bamboo but did not see anyone else. They were gone and I could not save them,” she said.

Bindu lost her husband – Lalosah’s brother – and four daughters while Lalosah’s mother and a niece died.

“We lost so much but we need to live on. This has been very hard for us all,” said Lalosah, who continues living in the house which was slightly damaged after the flood. He shares the house with his sister-in-law Bindu and three other relatives.

He currently works for HFH India to rebuild houses in Jorgama. “It is good for me to work with Habitat, knowing that the houses will be well built and there will be many years of living in a good house.

“I cannot bring back my family but we can help each other to overcome our grief with a new hope for us all,” Lalosah added.