00 Owner Driven Shelter Construction
AUF Mid Term Shelter Home- Owner Driven Shelter Construction
  1. A. Background

In the past big natural disasters during the past two decades, it has been observed when a large number of shelters are needed to replace those that have been severely damaged or destroyed a variety of interventions emerge to assist the affected people. These include the assistance program by government as well as non-government agencies.

At the time of writing this note (beginning of September) it is already two and half months since the main disaster struck. It is about that time when the mid-term shelters must bring some comfort to the affected people. A number of questions could arise in this connection.

How could this happen? Who would build them? What modalities could be adopted? What have been the past experiences?

In regards to the building of shelter two principle modalities have been observed where vastly different processes take place, having potential of vastly different results and responses.

  1. B. Options of Modalities and observations
    1. No role of house owner: An agency other than the house owner brings ready to occupy shelters starting from designing the houses to actually building them, with little or no contribution of any kind from the house owner.


This approach generally has advantage of the economy of scale, and possibilities of using more sophisticated technologies.


House owners learn nothing about improved construction. Houses may not be in conformance with the local lifestyle. House owners may have difficulty maintaining the houses not built by them. House owners will always have complains of some sort about the houses. Totally disregards the peoples’ ability to get their house built.

  1. House owner driven: An agency brings assistance in the form of cash and/or kind, and the shelter building is totally managed by the house owner starting from designing it, all the way to constructing it with much, little, or no self-help.


People learn about the improved disaster resistant technology. They are likely to be able to take care of the house in future. They will have no complains since all decisions about the house as well as the actual construction are taken by them. People will use their common sense to achieve best economics. Satisfaction level is likely to be highest. There is ownership of the house in true sense.


The economy of scale is not available. Hence, the house may cost a little more than in the earlier case.

  1. C. Owner Driven Shelter Construction
  • This approach respects peoples’ ability to build their own houses and also to manage the construction including procuring of materials as well as the required skilled and unskilled labor.
  • This approach also acknowledges peoples’ commitment to rebuilding their houses.
  • People with the help of the local masons or petty contractor take all the decisions including the designing of the house (or stick to a standard design given by the donor), as also the take decision on the materials for construction.
  • This approach also allows contribution by the people in every which way one can think of. People can put in their own labor, as and when required. People can also pitch in more materials, their resource permitting, to make the house bigger and of layout that suites their own needs.
  • The donor (including the government) agency could assist in cash and kind, or just cash.
  • The donor agency could distribute the materials that have to be brought in from far, such as CGI sheets, timber (bamboo where viable and acceptable), cement, steel etc. where required and as required. Local materials like stone for walling available near the site could be procured by the house owner. If timber is available locally then that too could be procured by the house owner. For such procurement, the donor could disburse some funds.
  • Similarly, for the labor cost also, some funds could be given to the house owner at an appropriate time/stage.

In order to implement this modality, much advance preparation is required that is different from when the owners are not driving the construction. The whole modality has to be evolved about how much or what is to be given to the house owner and when. It may also require some orientation of the house owners and training of the building artisans.

  1. D. Construction of Mid-term Shelter through Owner Drive Approach

For this approach to succeed, the defining of each stake holder’s role and responsibility is most critical.

  1. a. Responsibility of the technical agency:
  • Provide detailed design – one or more options
  • Provide the budget and quantity of the required materials
  • Provide guidance/training to artisans through demonstration site
  • Periodic random quality and progress monitoring
  • Helping evolve the modality of owner driven construction and of disbursement of materials and funds
  1. b. Responsibility of the donor agency:
  • Liaison with the concerned government agency to ensure favorable disposition
  • Ratification of the target communities
  • Create a network of local agencies for local support
  • Keep funds ready for disbursement
  • Take decisions on the modality of material and funds disbursement
  • Evolve process of monitoring of work progress against disbursement
  • Monitoring of work quality
  • Decide on an incentive for timely completion of construction – Solar light with phone charger.
  1. c. Responsibilities of the local agencies:
  • Identification of beneficiaries
  • Identification of land for construction
  • Sensitize the community in timely manner about
    • What type of shelters would be built
    • What would be responsibility of each house owner
    • How much funds would be given to each house owner at different stages of construction.
    • What materials and how much would be given to each house owner
    • Time limit for the construction
    • Incentive for adhering to time limit
    • Assess the local carting cost (variable from village to village) in order to ensure adequate reimbursement
    • Identify local skilled manpower and organize their training
    • Facilitate the disbursement of funds
    • Monitoring procurement of local materials
    • Facilitate the disbursement of non-local materials including coordination with beneficiaries about securing the materials at the road head
    • Monitoring the construction progress and quality
    • Maintaining regular communication with the beneficiaries – face to face or telephonically
    • Updating donor about the status including problems and good stories
  1. d. Responsibilities of Beneficiaries:
  • Arrange for the construction site
  • Organize the procurement of local materials, especially stone through local persons, and get it delivered at the site
  • Ensure safe guarding of non-local materials delivered at the road-head
  • Ensure construction as per guidelines provided without violation, including when making minor modifications in design
  • Safely store the procured and supplied materials
  • Arrange for man power as needed
  • Get the construction executed within stipulated budget and time limit
  1. E. Process of advance payment to the beneficiaries

Once the cost of the structure is finalized including the material and labor cost, the payment (lump-sum pre-determined amount) can be arranged in the following stages

  • The first installment must be released at the time of collecting and carting of local material (stone) and carting of outside materials to the site. This will vary from village to village depending upon the distance of the location of site from the road-head.
  • Once all the material has reached the site, the second installment for the labor cost for masons and unskilled labor must be released. This is a fixed amount at all locations.
  • Once the stone walls are constructed up to the required height, the third installment must be released for the labor cost of carpenters and the unskilled labor required with him. This is a fixed amount at all locations.
  • With the full payment already released before the installation of roof, it would be best to have an incentive of some form to make sure the beneficiary finishes his/her shelter on time.

Prepared By:

  • Rupal & Rajendra Desai – NCPDP
  • R.K.Mukerji – TARN, Dehradun

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