From transitional shelters to permanent homes

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484 crisis-affected families in southern Kyrgyzstan to get new houses.

After building transitional shelters for families whose houses were burnt during the June 2010 crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan, ACTED is continuing its shelter project by constructing permanent homes for 484 affected families. The project is soon to end, and some families are getting ready to move in to their new homes where they can rebuild their lives.

Just below the famous Suleiman Mountain in Osh city, southern Kyrgyzstan, Navoi street is bustling with construction activities. The residents of this neighborhood, whose houses were burnt down during the crisis in June 2010, are now busy trying to finish the construction of their new homes before the arrival of cold winter days. Turdubai’s house is one of the first ones to be completed in the following days. Turdubai, a 65-year-old man with a grin on his face and hands clasped behind his back, observes the construction of his house while looking after his grandchildren who are playing in the yard.

On 10 June 2010, a violent conflict broke out in the Osh and Jalalabad provinces of southern Kyrgyzstan, marking the worst crisis the country had experienced since its independence. In less than ten days, the violence resulted in approximately 400 deaths and the displacement of over 400,000 people. Nearly 2,000 houses were destroyed, and many other businesses and households were looted. In the immediate aftermath of the conflict, a consortium of aid agencies came together to build 1,951 transitional shelters for conflict affected families. Out of this, ACTED built 568 brick shelters, ensuring that families would be adequately prepared to meet the harsh winter months.

This year, ACTED and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) are continuing the 2010 shelter project by building permanent houses for 1,500 families, with financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). ACTED is responsible for the reconstruction of 484 houses in Osh and Jalalabad provinces. The project is running according to schedule, with nearly 100% of walls constructed in Osh and only roofs remaining to be completed.

A sustainable and customized house

Last year, eleven members of Turdubai’s extended family (his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren) spent the winter in a transitional shelter. As one of ACTED beneficiaries, Turdubai is happy to move in to a permanent home in less than ten days. “My new house is a bit smaller than the one I lived in before the conflict, but it’s stronger and more secure; it is seismic proof and built from quality materials. I also like the arrangement of rooms because it is more practical,” says Turdubai.

Since his house is located on a hill, Turdubai requested the original standard design of the house to be modified to fit a more elevated ground. While some beneficiaries like Turdubai have customized the designs of their houses for technical reasons, more often beneficiaries make such a request due to cultural reasons or personal preferences. For instance, some beneficiaries wanted to have a “padval” or a basement as it is an important component of a traditional Central Asian house, whereas others wished to merge their new homes with what remained from their old houses. According to Jean-Francois Pion, ACTED’s housing project manager, the most interesting part of this project is that the original eight housing designs have evolved into more than 200 individualized designs. “I am very happy that we have been able to accommodate the beneficiaries’ wishes and deliver them homes that suit their cultures and preferences, even if it multiplies ACTED’s work,” says Jean-Francois.

ACTED supplies the beneficiaries with all necessary construction materials and provides cash to cover the cost of construction labor. ACTED has also started to provide special financial assistance to women-headed households and to most vulnerable households, including disabled, sick, elderly, single-headed and very low income households (below the national poverty line). A total of 69 vulnerable households are benefitting from this additional assistance.

“I am incredibly grateful for the donors who are funding this project and for ACTED staff who are working hard to implement the project and coming on a regular basis to check up on us,” says a happy Turdubai, standing in front of his almost finished new house.