Community ownership through cash
In contrast to the standard modality for providing shelter materials, the programme provided direct cash support that enabled households to make choices regarding design, use of materials and the nature of the construction process while at the same time receiving technical training. Cash support was conditional on interim milestones in the construction process being met and tranches were paid out after quality assurance monitoring. An evaluation of the 2011-12 programme found that respondents overwhelmingly used the cash grants exclusively for shelter construction. However, even though it also reported that the grants were sufficient, anecdotal evidence pointed to recipients having to spend extra for transportation of materials and procurement of additional materials, primarily doors and windows. However, this cash-based approach allowed people choice, supported the communities’ own self-help capacities and contributed to the revitalisation of local markets and supply chains.
IOM utilised good practice from microfinance projects and exchanged the One Room Shelter committee at village level for a focal point for each group of beneficiary households. This person was nominated by the people constructing shelters as someone they trusted to represent them with the local partner and IOM. This was found to be more effective in taking advantage of peer pressure to ensure completion of all buildings within an agreed time-scale in a particular community. Often this individual was a local leader – a local religious leader, teacher or businessman/woman. They had to be literate and be able to open a bank account. They received the cash payments on behalf of the group and distributed them. By having these nominated leaders undertaking the cash disbursement and monitoring progress, the programme greatly increased coverage to include women, the elderly, the disabled and others not otherwise able or, due to cultural constraints, not willing to be part of the programme.
Local procurement was challenging for project participants in 50% of cases, primarily because of inflated material costs during the emergency, problems with transport and poor quality materials. However, in most cases, the involvement of community focal persons and NGO staff in local mediation and mass procurement on behalf of consenting communities mitigated these challenges. The ability to build the shelters was also strongly influenced by the agricultural season, as households hard-pressed for financial resources could not afford to lose their main source of income. In most cases, this meant that women undertook much of the construction work while the men worked in the fields. Despite this, there was no
reported community resentment of the self-recovery model. In fact, high levels of ownership were evidenced by beneficiaries even expending resources in personalising buildings.
To strengthen the evidence base for future responses, the Shelter Working Group in Pakistan is undertaking research to understand the relative resilience, sustainability and acceptability of differing shelter types. This will enable them to provide scientifically tested guidance on low-cost shelter solutions that are floodresistant, compatible with vernacular architecture and indigenous construction techniques, minimise environmental impacts
Ammarah Mubarak, Humanitarian Operations Manager, UN Migration Agency (IOM), Pakistan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saad Hafeez, Programme Officer, UN Migration Agency (IOM), Pakistan (email@example.com)
This piece was originally published in the Forced Migration Review June 2017 Issue focusing on Shelter in Displacement: http://www.fmreview.org/sites/fmr/files/FMRdownloads/en/shelter.pdf