Metal Houses for IDPs are caravans without wheels

Home for IDPs - CopyMetal houses a prefabricated structure that are like caravans without wheels , left permanently in one place, these are alien to the people in North and East and not fit for the local environment. The need of about 137,000 houses to be built in the conflict affected areas of North and East was identified and the first phase was initiated earlier in the year to build 65,000 houses for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of the region. But this has been done without any consultations with the concerned communities on any aspect of the project; furthermore the contractor appointed has no obligation to pilot-test the suitability of these supplier-driven solutions and designs. The fully furnished houses to be constructed use new innovative technology. These are two bedroomed houses each with sitting room, kitchen and with a detached toilet along with a tube well, hand pump, water storage tank. Each house is furnished with beds, tables, gas cylinder for cooking, three ceiling fans, lights and other furniture. It further includes solar panels to provide partial electrification. On completion the recipient family would be able to move in to live without worrying about getting a bank loan to purchase furniture or to obtain electricity & water supply. The Sri Lankan government has decided to review this project to build 65,000 houses for the rehabilitation of the war-hit families in the Northern Province, amid allegations that the project was clouded by corruption.

Foreign governments are funding the project and contract has been awarded to a contractor to supply the pre-fabricated metal houses. Furthermore using imported materials and services rather than local materials and expertise will undermine the local economy and negate any positive spin-offs expected from it. Instead the single tender action to provide these prefabricated houses costing around 2 million Sri Lankan rupees will only lead to a further expansion of an already inflated public national debt.

A better proposition than the present scheme of providing 65,000 pre-fabricated metal houses would have been to provide say 100,000 conventional houses of same size which as a life time investment would have benefited the recipients. Providing conventional houses using local material and labour, could take more time to mobilise the local labour required and may take about five years to complete. But at the end of five years the beneficiaries will have a house and the region will have an experienced construction workforce in every district for future use.