by Ar. Yasmeen Lari
The devastation is unprecedented. 33 million people have been displaced which means over 5 million families consisting of women and children are shelter-less and vulnerable, soon with winter months to deal with.
The traditional ways particularly the International Colonial Charity model which relies on handouts and intermediaries have proven to be ineffective in the face of major disasters because of their limited outreach and treatment of affected people as supplicants and fostering dependency. I would like for it to be replaced by humanistic humanitarianism.
The enormity of the present 2022 Flood requires a paradigm shift in the structure of the culture of giving.
For many years now I have been working on developing and fine-tuning the philosophical basis of Barefoot Social Architecture, the tenets of which have been used extensively in the last few years in the projects implemented by the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan.
Barefoot Social Architecture (BASA) Tenets
BASA Culture of Giving:
To handle the enormous calamity, we need a paradigm shift from charity to empowerment, from dependence to self-reliance, from women being suppressed to placing them in the lead. I want knowledge sharing for and capacity building of communities and most of all women. I want to use technology and connectivity for direct communication. I want large-scale training and knowledge transfer to enable communities to take care of themselves.
No to handouts, no to charity!
No intermediaries. Don’t put money into a black hole.
Raise funds for long-term engagement with chosen communities.
Components of BASA Giving:
Following these principles, Heritage Foundation with several partners has begun implementing several methodologies to relate to different situations:
Utilization of funds available with Guardians for establishing a basic level for living on an incremental basis through participatory approaches and appropriate training,
After return to Previous Habitat:
Shelter-related livelihoods to be organized during the emergency shelter phase
Other livelihoods to be taken up after return should include the following for which training can be arranged:
What is Barefoot Knowledge Depository:
Low impact, low tech, locally sourced, locally fabricated products and procedures:
What is Climate Smart Training:
Floods of 2010
As in the rest of the country, the province of Sindh also suffered enormously through the Floods of 2010. Even before the affected communities were able to pick up the pieces, excessive rains in Lower Sindh produced a greater disaster than ever before.
Clearly, the enormity of the disaster in the aftermath of the 2011 floods requires innovative solutions for providing shelter to a vast majority at an accelerated pace.
The latest figures indicate that at least 0.8 million houses are either fully or partially damaged (PDM A Sindh/OCH A). When viewed in the context of the background of the 2010 floods, we know that last year only a fraction of the required housing units could be built due to various constraints. It is clear that conventional approaches are once again likely to prove inadequate in the face of a much greater calamity, where the devastation has spread over a vastly extended area with a much greater number of displaced households.
Clearly, it has become imperative to devise low cost alternative approaches to provide shelter options which would include maximum participation of affected households themselves. At the same time, in view of the danger of annual flooding, it has become increasingly important that DRR capabilities are built-in within the new struc- tures to enable the communities to survive within their original habitat during the course of floods. The strategies and approaches to deal with the present crisis must be worked out with a view to enable the affected households to restart their lives immediately after the waters begin to recede, with minimum dislocation, least loss of life and minimum loss of livestock.
In collaboration with DFID and IOM, in October 2011, Heritage Foundation undertook the task of creating a training and implementation framework for innovative architectural/engineering solutions for speedy rehabilitation/reconstruction of shelters, based on DRR cross cutting theme. These methodologies have been developed to enable affected communities, donors and IPOs in undertaking shelter rehabilitation and shelter reconstruction at an accelerated pace. The framework thus developed maximizes participation of households including women by utilizing their own skills and capabilities.
The strategy has been developed by Heritage Foundation CEO Ar. Yasmeen Lari, in the light of research on construction materials and techniques carried out in various districts of Sindh, as well as experience gained in working in post-disaster communities since 2005Earthquake in Northern Pakistan. The approach is based on provision of sustainable and low cost options derived from traditional techniques and participatory mechanisms that would lead to attain- ing immediate shelter by strengthening the capabilities and skills of communities themselves.
Awareness in DRR measures and sensitivities towards gender empowerment and conflict resolution measures will be built-in in the learning outcomes of the training programme.
Throughout the programme, a mechanism of quality control and certification will be put in place, for which Mobile Barefoot KaravanTeams (MBJT) will be trained for field work and monitoring, in coordination with Heritage control centre (HCC). HCC will develop training modules, technical guidance and information, as well as liaison with CSC, MBKT and Implementing Partners.
For smooth functioning of the project and transparent procedures, the disbursement of funds will be the responsibility of the Imple- menting Partners, and will be distinct from training, monitoring, evaluation and certification, which will be the responsibility of Heritage Foundation..
We are confident that based on improved vernacular construction techniques incorporating DRR methods developed by Heritage Foundation over the years, these sustainable and economical op- tions will provide the critical direction for communities to become strong, self reliant and resilient. The implementation procedures through a process of certification and several monitoring tiers will ensure that all shelters constructed using Heritage Foundation methodology will have strong walls and safe haven KaravanRoofs for safety during next floods. In addition to safety of life, other DRR methodologies being recommended by Heritage Foundation, will provide safety of rations, potable water, livestock and fodder. Such interventions, comprising raised earthen platforms, will also provide the much needed sports and cultural nodes, which we are confident, will lead to transformation in the lives of village communities.
Having lost everything due to 2022 Flood, millions of families today need food supplies. Due to Government’s non action and slow action of NGOs they are likely to remain shelter-less for a long time. However, I believe with very little investment, we can enable families to begin growing food for their survival.
What is Food Security programme?
At a small charge to households, the various segments are implemented by Barefoot Entrepreneurs belonging to Sponsoring Villages who, at a small charge, provide guidance for making platforms, divide up the village land into areas in order to begin growing fruit trees, vegetables and bushes/grain, and provide training to make mud/lime bricks to make village boundary walls.
What are Sponsoring Villages?
These are Yasmeen Lari’s Zero Carbon villages that have become self sufficient who have agreed to sponsor destitute villages in their vicinity to provide guidance for food security.
What are Dosti Villages?
These are destitute villages who have received no help so far but have now been adopted by Sponsoring Villages to provide guidance and help.
How will Dosti Villages become Food Secure?
Only essential equipment and materials costing Rs. 110,000 are needed to enable 50-70 families in each village to begin growing food.
a. One raised handpump: Rs. 15,000
b. One solar panel: Rs. 40,000
c. 40 bags of lime: Rs. 20,000
d. Maa ka Dastarkhwan (Mothers dining) for 7 days providing cooked food for 90-100 persons to support collective building of village boundary walls: Rs. 35,000
Expert teams of Sponsoring Villages provide guidance and training at a small charge to each family.
How can Dosti Villages be sponsored?
For each village of 50-70 households funds can be sent to Mothers Committees, who will arrange for procurement and disbursement. Heritage Foundation of Pakistan will allocate villages, oversee installation and provide feedback. A link to Google map will be provided which will show progress in each village on a database of Dosti Villages.
While at Cambridge, it has been difficult to continue with my blogs in a regular fashion. However, there has been much thought and a great deal of discussion with my team at home. And I am pleased to report that we are being supported fully by communities in moving on in many directions.
The most important development is the seriousness with which the communities have responded and are working hard to plant and grow food for consumption of their families first. But as the produce is growing in quantity, mechanism has to be put in place for collection and sales of these items.
Many steps have been taken in order to make the dry and ostensibly barren land into fertile, food growing area. The one thing that has been bothering me is that in Sindh, we find the landlords orchards flourishing; however, even though village may be in the midst of orchards, nothing would be cultivated there. Either the hari or the farm labour was not encouraged to grow, even though it is the same farm labour that toils to make profit for landlords. It occurred to me that either the villagers never had enough courage to build on what they think is the landlord’s land, or because of the hard crust, they assumed that the land was barren and will not bear any results if plantation was taken up.
As we began to work on the village, we found that in most places, water was available quite easily and the area was conducive to growing produce. On an experimental basis the hard crust was removed to 12”-18’, treated with water and organic compost and we found that indeed the soil below supported growing of vegetables, fruit etc.
Also, while making excavation for a low cost water storage tank at grade, it was found that water was available quite close to the ground surface and as the artisans dug, the water level kept on being maintained. And if we did not line the tank, it would be ideal for breeding small fish. So that is the beginning of small fish breeding by groups of families. And now that the fish are growing well, a process of fish drying has been started so that all surplus fish could be stored or sold.
The solar dehydration of vegetables and fruit, which has been taken up by communities enthusiastically, has shown good results. If organized properly this provides huge opportunities for ensuring food security along with income generation.
Now that the social franchise system is taking root, there would be possibility of extensive sales during off season time for various vegetables and fruit etc.
As we initiated the programme in Village Taj Mohammad who had done
extremely well in their earnings last month, it was surprising how enthusiastically
the entire programme was received. Thus almost immediately after my discussion
and the blog, Project Manager Naheem took up the matter with the village and
organized the teams for getting work started.
Since work on provision of handpump and solar lights has already been taken in
hand, and information regarding households etc. was already compiled, we were
able to get going fairly quickly.
In addition to the allocation for various essential items, another condition I have
imposed is that each sponsored village must immediately nominate three women
as village committee who will be responsible for providing information and
oversee implementation. If they begin to perform their duties well, they will be
provided with a cell phone in order to make reporting easier for them.
Additionally, joint accounts for all three should be opened with a local bank asap.
This would become important as they are made responsible for reporting and also
in case any funds need to be transferred for work in the village.
Only a couple of weeks ago I had written about starting a parallel strategy for recovery with the aim to get the basic water arrangement with a handpump and water storage tank to be carried out in villages where the use of existing ponds for fish farming could also be started with a meagre allocation of Rs. 20,000 for a village of 50 households.
As we began working it became clear that the level of deprivation and poverty is so great and there needs to be greater effort if the Interim Recovery Strategy is to be successful.
To achieve every affected hosusehold’s minimum level of subsistence, it would be imporant to place emphasis on food prodction in addition to certain other needs. As we know this issue affects millions and it is well nigh impossible to secure enough esources to enable survival of these communities.
Village to Village Partnership – Gaon, Gaon Dosti
Since my attempt always is to provide assistance to communities at the least possible cost, it occurs to me that the Pono village cluster, with its spirit of generosity that exists in its communities, is now poised to help others. As the HF team worked out, with funding of only Rs. 100,000 per 50 families, it would be possible to provide many components which would get those still in need to be placed on the path of recovery.
T have deided to immediately take up 10 villages near Pono village cluster where work on installation of handpumps and fish breeding has already been taken in hand.
This blog is in continuation of the earlier blog regarding first learnings and provides more detailed information regarding building of school rooms and the curriculum for basic learning that has been developed.
According to conservative estimates the number of schools fullly damaged and partially damagd runs into several thousands which means that in Sindh the schooll going children have been without any learing possibilties for the last several months. If the poor state of education because of COVID closures and the usual ghost school sydrome is added to the problem, it would seem that several million children have suffered throghout this period and without a smattering of learning, they have no chance of surivival in the competitive 21st century.
How can we leave generations in our country without dealing with this issue. The problem is extremely complex because of high cost of usual construction and non availability of funds to be able to provide even a basic teaching room, let alone provision of toilets and potable water. However, if we could accept it as a challenge and work out sustaiable solutions, it is my belief that we could use this opportunity to bring about the social change that is needed today.
The prototype for the propsal has been started in the successful pilot of 1,000 households to create sustaiable zero carbon communities where the first schol room has been built in early December. In the 1,000 households pilot, the basic needs and flood mitigation and environmental improvement components, along with barefoot enterprises in each village for income generation, has been accomplished within 10 weeks. The Pono Vilage cluster is ready to take up the next phase.
Health and some other aspects of further flood mitigation measures alsong with storage of grain/food and cattle feed and safety are being gradually take up. However, in view of the plight of school going age children, we felt that focus on missing school rooms was essential.
Some weeks ago, Chief Executive, The Hampton School, educationist and director Heritage Foundation has provided training to 4 local village teachers to begin the basic learing programme.
We have now begun building another school room along with two eco toilets in a village near Pono cluster which is being built as a protuype for interested organizations to examine it as a model of a sustainable school and whether it could be taken up by them to embark on the challenging task of provision of safe rooms for our children’s education.
Among important initiatives would be to encourage local universities and corporate sector to initiate a programme for joint school building with student volunteers and community on the same pattern as Heritage Foundation’s Climate Volunteers.
It is good to know that Naheem Shah and his team have acted immediately, and the first prototype of spinach and banana chips drying has been started.
The methodology adopted is to make a bamboo frame fixed wth bamboo lattice made with waste bamboo pieces. The bamboo frame is lined with muslin first and then the items for deyhydration are spread on it.
This is the first time that we have been able to get it started in Pono village. If women are successful then the dehydration process should be spread as far and wide as possible.
The more I think about the condition of millions now left to fend for themselves the greater I feel a sense of despondency. After a frenzy of fund raising and ration distribution there is a pall in all activities. I am told donor fatigue has set in.
I think it is also because everybody feels that they have done their bit for charity and the helpless millions are not their responsibility any way. The fact is that if you follow the usual path of charity, there is only so much anybody could do and eventually the state has to take on the responsibility.
Another fact however, is that all state organs seem to be absent from the depths of rural Sindh. In such a case, and it is not something that has not been clear for some time, that state institutions are not really engaged in welfare of the poor, would it not be appropriate for some of us who have an understanding of the vulnerable condition of the abandoned communities that we need to work on methodologies to see how we could help them survive.
The first group of Climate Volunteers that arrived from Vienna Technical University, Vienna and University of Lahore, Lahore did a fremarkable job of interacting with the villagers in the Pono Villagee group of 13 villages that are on their way of full recovery after the floods.
While resising in the village in the first week of December, they have managed to co build a school room. They also made a gift of a monitor and a solar panel to faciliate learning in the school.
The school room has replaced a makeshift class room where some classes were being conducted. Educationist AFroza Bhamani, Director of Heritage Foundation and owner The Hampton School, has trained four young people from the village into teaching the basics to village children.
I am picking up the flood thread again as I am back in Karachi during vacation. Much has happened where Heritage Foundation teams have worked hard to make 1,000 households as close to self-sufficiency as possible.
Based on the success of the Fish Farming village Kewal Goth which has been successful in making a success of fish farming in much neglected pond close to their village. The success is phenomenal. Beginning with literally nothing in the first week of October -- when they were provided some basic training due to the good office of Project Manager Naheem Shah by identifying a fish expert in the area. The process was begun with little hope of success, as hardly an attempt had been made in the past to use the much-neglected ponds in a fruitful manner.
I am happy to report the visit of the first team of Climate Volunteers. On 30 November 10 students and 2 faculty members from Vienna Technical University and another 9 students and 3 faculty members from University of Lahore arrived in Karachi.
They were taken to the Pono Hospitality village to spend 6 days in working with close collaboration with village communities.
Many activities happened during the eventful days in the midst of the flood affected area.
Pono Hospitality village is part of the pilot consisting of 13 villages and 1,000 households that has been taken up by Heritage Foundation to demonstrate how application of BASA Barefoot Social Architecture holistic approach can transform lives of people within a short period of time and at an extraordinary low cost.
The two teams worked jointly on various aspects. While they conducted research on various aspects, they also built a school room in collaboration with the community, designed some interesting bamboo furniture for the guest cottages, and also participated in a festival that had been arranged to market barefoot goods to surrounding communities and indeed among the 13 villages themselves.
Click the following link to view the PowerPoint presentation:
One Million Shelters Presentation
CAMBRIDGE, 6th November
The Phase I defined in my earlier blog is nearing completion in 13 villages
in the Pono Cluster. This means that major development effort towards
emergency relief, recovery and rehabilitation would have been achieved in
a short of span of 12 weeks.
Beginning in September which included identifying 13 villages, getting
basic information regarding the number of households, lists of households
in each village, determining the strategy of what should comprise Phase I of
adopt a village porgramme, which would ensure that basic necessities for
living become available as well as steps for disaster preparedness.
Co building and Co creation by Communities
The work in all villages is in hand and with the collaborative arrangement
with different village communities, much progress has been made towards
transformation of their own environments.
As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, it is costing a mere Rs.
15,000/household to achieve this amazing progress.
At the same time each village has now become expert in specialized
barefoot products, some of which are being sold in surrounding areas,
among the other poor. Thus, trickle of small amounts of funds for some of
the villages is already happening. There are encouraging reports from some
villages where they are moving forward quite rapidly – the instant shelter
barefoot entrepreneur already able to afford a motorbicycle, some others
able to now get cell phones.
Being with students, and to see their enthusiasm for Pakistan, has been a refreshing experience. I met a number of students on 25th October, led by Syeda Hanniya Kamran and coordinated by Dr. Rihab Khalid. We were fortunate that pro-Vice Chancellor Kamal Munir was also able to attend. The meeting was held in a committee room at West Court, Jesus College, arranged by Lucey Couch, Assistant to Master Sunita Alleyne, OBE.
The meeting had been convened by PakSoc to work out ways to help Pakistan at this juncture. Since they had been considering arranging for fund raisers to send funds for relief and rehabilitation work, and since I don’t believe in charity, I was able to share my alternate point of view.
I believe it is important to provide expression of empathy and solidarity with those who are today in a destitute state. Some funds are always useful if they are provided in a manner to help them towards path of self-reliance, but what is important is to provide opportunity to those interested to provide them to assure the communities of their support.
Among the most important aspects at this time is to provide hand holding, support and encouragement to help them rise above adversity themselves.
CAMBRIDGE, 22nd October
I have begun this series in order to develop record of how various karigar villages with their specialized barefoot enterprises are moving forward. As more information is coming in it is good to know that some have begun earning small amounts through their enterprise- some of the income is from subsidized products that Heritage Foundation has supported, but some is also happening because other villages in need of affordable and low cost products.
CAMBRIDGE, 21st October
I am getting regular reports from the villages and it is heartening to note how busy all villagers are in trying to improve their environment. While reports are being prepared on each village’s performance and production capabilities, it is important to discuss the results achieved in relation to the provision of shelter.
In the past few days, following the disasters due to the heavy rains in the Sindh region, Heritage Foundation Pakistan reached out to some of the worst hit villages in Makli and Mirpurkhas (Pono Village), elaborating effective and economical approaches through vernacular methodologies. Calamities like this one prove us once again that climate change is not science fiction but destroys real people’s lives in the snap of a finger. The strategy has been developed by Heritage Foundation CEO Ar. Lari who has brought together a compact team of collaborators willing to give their contribution. Rainwater drainage process coordinated by Miss Lari’s team of experts has started to get executed with the support of the villagers. A low-cost approach has been studied and analyzed starting from the aquifer trench, which will serve to collect the stagnant rainwater that is 8/9 inches deep and spread over at various locations in the distressed area. All actions will include maximum participation of affected households themselves, strengthening their capabilities and skills. Targeted training modules are in fact offered for implementing partners, volunteers, artisans and communities. The strategy also includes the transfer of prefabricated bamboo shelters that will be directly sent to the villages and composed on-site by the community
In the past few days, following the disasters due to the heavy rains in the Sindh region, Heritage Foundation Pakistan reached out to some of the worst hit villages in Makli and Mirpurkhas (Pono Village), elaborating effective and economical approaches through vernacular methodologies. Calamities like this one prove us once again that climate change is not science fiction but destroys real people’s lives in the snap of a finger. The strategy has been developed by Heritage Foundation CEO Ar. Lari who has brought together a compact team of collaborators willing to give their contribution. Rainwater drainage process coordinated by Miss Lari’s team of experts has started to get executed with the support of the villagers. A low-cost approach has been studied and analyzed starting from the aquifer trench, which will serve to collect the stagnant rainwater that is 8/9 inches deep and spread over at various locations in the distressed area. All actions will include maximum participation of affected households themselves, strengthening their capabilities and skills. Targeted training modules are in fact offered for implementing partners, volunteers, artisans and communities. The strategy also includes the transfer of prefabricated bamboo shelters that will be directly sent to the villages and composed on-site by the community.
Pono Village is located in the district of Mirpurkhas (Sindh) which in the past week has witnessed incredible damage from the heavy rains. A solution to drain the water out of the village has been studied and examined by the Heritage Foundation Pakistan.
The solution that’s been brought up is to create an aquifer trench (4’-0’’x4’-0’’) that will act as a natural drain for the rainwater.
As drawn on the map, in red is shown the path that must be followed in order to dig the aquifer trench. The latter will follow the left side of the main road surrounding the right side of the village.The Project will be later on be developed into a more structured one, that will include the creation of a forest along the main road and a boundary wall positioned right next the aquifer trench.
In order to deal with the shelter emergency, Heritage Foundation Pakistan has provided the displaced families of the flood sticken village, Pono Village with the ‘Lari Octa Green’ shelters, a sustainable green construction. The structure can be fabricated and erected at a very rapid pace. It takes in fact only a couple of hours to build one bamboo shelter, making it extremely time saving considering the emergency at hand. Up till now 15 shelters have been made and more are under construction.
The first Women’s Assembly session was held on 16th Dec, 2014 at Village Mithu Khaskheli and Village Obrayo Durs, Tando Allahyar. The women were introduced to the concepts of the importance of education and the part it plays in the well being of their children.
Location: News Blog
A refresher training workshop was held in village MokShareef, for village master trainers.
Location: News Blog
On March 16th, a visit to HF projects in village Mohak Sharif and village Dost Mohammad Khokar in Tandi Allahyar was made by teams of DFID and IOM along with Mr. Mahmood Shah, landlord of Mohak Sharf. Mr. Naheem Shah, PM, HF conducted the teams to the two villages where they were shown the work so far completed including 49 shelters, 46 emergency shelters as well as a 24’x16’ Village Centre and a Women’s Centre.
As of March 12th, a 3-room primary school and a small health facility constructed in Village Darya Khan Shaikh, District Khairpur have been completed. Construction of a 1-room school has been started in Village Uthero. The work in Darya Khan Shaikh and Uthero has been undertaken with support from Swiss Pakistan Society.
As of March 1st, with the completion of 50 emergency shelters in village Dost Mohammad Khokar in District Tando Allahyar to date the following shelters/housing units have been completed:
|Village Darya Khan Shaikh & Village Uthero, District Khairpur (March to August 2011)||104|
|Village Mohak Sharif, District Tando Allahyar (from October to December 2011)||45|
|In 35 talukas/tehsils of Lower Sindh (October to November 2011)||69|
|Village Dost Mohammad Khokar, District Tando Allahyar (February 2012)||50|
|Total completed upto 1 March 2012||268|
As of January 15th, construction of the Village Centre completed (size 16’x24’), where a Masters’ Training Programme was conducted by Mr. Saad Khan and Mr. Naheem Shah. A circular ‘Chora’ room of 15’ diameter has also been completed dedicated to gathering of women.