L’expertise solidaire pour construire un habitat digne et durable pour tous

Group at Veerapagupathi reconstruction project

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The second exchange program, was really the continuation of the first program-the Sirkali exposure visit. This visit to Nagercoil was held from 3 - 5 October 2006.

The participants that attended the first program were all present along (representatives of ODTF, TNDTF, D&D, ISED and Praxis) with additional participants from CED. The approach of this exposure visit was interaction, where by the participants were left to interact with the community in the villages and explore the presence, activities and working of the NGO, Praxis.

The vist started with Praxis presenting the programme outline and introducing the main theme of ‘Dynamics of Reconstruction and Rehablitation’ which was to be explored in this visit. This was followed by a presentation by Sudharsan Rodriguez regarding issues of CRZ and CMZ, and the amendments suggested by MSSRF.

The Exposure visit began with a visit to villages of Periyakadu and K.P.Thurai, where Praxis has been active from 2005 after Tsunami to implemented income generation activities through working women sangha. There was an organised interaction session with the sangha (self help groups) and the participants. Also visited was Kanyakumari to interact with the sea-shell vendors who although have stalls for the entire year, do bussiness only for the 8 months and for the next four months their business borders unemployment. The tsunami struck when their business was in the peak season. Here also Praxis has intervened and formed three groups that were provided with loans so that they could start alternative livelihood activities. The notable feature in this sangha is that it has both male and female members, in comparison to the others which were mainly women groups.

The participants then visited reconstruction of houses at:
1. Tsunami resettlement village at Veerapaghupati, which involved rehabilitation on a new site that was already identified and acquired by the community. 58 houses were constructed using alternative building technology by Habitat Technology Group and A&D.
2. Rajakamangalamthurai Village, where the French Red Cross is the donor and Praxis is taking up the social aspect of the project and technical support is being provided by A&D. A unique situation here is because 14 houses are to be built in-situ condition and 56 houses are to be built as a part of resettlement project in the land purchased by Praxis.
3. Housing in Arunthankavillai village where 23 houses are under construction for people who are unable to do so on their own. Each house plan is different from the other, designed according to the location and to the family requirement and tailor-made to the needs and aspiration of the beneficiaries.
4. Kovalam project, in collaberation with Action AID and Praxis where 101 houses are to be constructed in phases. Here interaction with the sangha was held before going on to visit the housing project.

The visits concluded with the presentation of the habitat study done by Praxis mainly using parameters like density, road access, sewerage and solid waste management. The follwing discussion focussed on the process and methodology of the study and concluded that this needed to be reviewed again.

The final session was entirely devoted to the review of the previous days’ activities and findings. The first part focussed on the activities of the sangha in Periyakadu, K.P.Thurai, Kovallam and Kanya kumari. One member presented the visit and the issues raised. Later the activist in-charge for that village participated in a question answer session with the participants. The second part was on the discussion on the reconstruction activities at Veerapahupati, Rajakamangalamthurai, Kovallam and Aaruthenganvillai to present a complete scenario with respect to the positive aspects and constraints of each project.