Sandeep Virmani is director, Hunnarshala Foundation, and coordinates the work of Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, a network of development NGOs in Kutch
Community participation in construction is critical for sustainability. Traditional communities have practised sustainable technologies and thought “small is beautiful” before the phrase gained currency. Unfortunately, policymakers do not recognize their value. Centralization of decision-making takes control of natural resources away from communities.
(For a slideshow of a project by Sandeep Virmani click below)
In Kashmir, after the 2005 earthquake, large areas of pristine deodar forests were to be cut down for government-led reconstruction work. We helped design a policy to let people recycle the rubble and wood from their damaged houses to reconstruct new ones, based on the “isolated foundation” concept developed by their forefathers to resist earthquakes. The forests were saved as the community reused most of the wood from damaged houses. Effective traditional technologies were revived. The new homes were culturally appropriate, unlike most rehabilitation colonies.