We are supporting family housing reconstruction using conditional cash transfers. Families can also contribute labour and materials. Unfortunately there are some members of the community who are too vulnerable to manage this process. What can we do?
Thank you for your question. There are various ways that you can include vulnerable families in cash transfer programs.
A capacity assessment must first be conducted to ensure that financial and construction management responsibilities will empower families rather than become a burden. Even where families have technical abilities, other demands on their attention must be taken into account such as care for dependents, health concerns and debt.
Contribution of materials will only be possible if the family has salvaged materials, has access to raw materials or additional cash to buy more materials. Be aware that vulnerable families may have none of these so their home will be completed with less resources than others. It may be that they are satisfied with the minimum, or they may feel that the process discriminates against them. This varies from community to community.
Contribution of labor is only possible if family members are physically fit and have some basic building skills. Those who cannot contribute labor may call upon other families to help, but do not assume that communities will naturally support vulnerable members in this way. This issue should form part of the capacity assessment.
To empower families to manage the financial aspects of the project they may only need training on the process of procurement and payment. Choose the simplest, most familiar processes, for example partnering with the local post office or savings organization that people already use. The fastest method may not be the most successful. Only use unfamiliar technologies such as mobile phones or bank cards if you have evidence that the community will quickly become comfortable with these methods.
However, if there are power imbalances in the community the problem may be that they cannot negotiate a good rate for materials or labour, they are sold materials of poor quality or labourers do not accept their authority. In these circumstances training may help, but it may also be necessary to call upon support from other families, community leaders or some of your technical team members, depending on whether the issue is fair trading or technical quality.
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