Understanding Rural Housing and Habitat Programs

A search for evidence based solution for a local, integrated model of rural habitat improvement.

Rural habitats are inherently ‘localised’, reflecting a closer relationship with locally available materials and skills, adaptation of housing and settlement patterns to climate and culture, initiated and financed by home-owners, and relying on community consensus. Despite an enhanced role of Government programs in Rural areas, housing is predominantly a people sector activity – what is known as the ‘social production of houses and habitat’. In addition, formal housing delivery systems are typically designed to reach wider scale and have made heavy investments in rural India but these houses do not necessarily fit into the rural context or do justice to the combined work-livelihood activities that exist. Yet, the relevance and reach of Government programs is important to acknowledge and within this understanding INHAF has worked towards articulating suggestions to improve a collective understanding of rural housing needs and impact existing delivery systems.


2012 February, INHAF participated at the National workshop organised by the Ministry of Rural Development through the National Institute of Rural Development, to review guidelines of the Indira Awas Yojana, a national rural housing subsidy program.

2013-14, Invitation by Sri Lankan Government to Kirtee Shah to advise their program implementation strategy on construction of 50,000 houses for internally displaced persons and other war victims in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka which was recently recognised by the World Habitat Awards. 

2013 December, Proposal by INHAF to set up a National taskforce on rural housing and habitat was accepted with Kirtee Shah as representative on the taskforce.

Worked with the Ministry of Rural Development, GoI, unsuccessfully, to replicate the institutional model—insertion of facilitating agency in the delivery system that relied on the beneficiary family constructing his/her own house—for IAY. 

Presented to GoI an organizational system that recognised common people’s role in housing production in the villages –rural housing in India is predominantly a people sector activity– and suggested support system and financing mechanism suited to their way of working and the production system.

Kirtee Shah worked as a Chairperson for a HUDCO appointed Committee for Rejuvenation and Strengthening the Building Centre Network in India analysed reasons for the failure of the BCs and suggested sustainable ways to reactivate and develop them.

2020-21, INHAF has conceived and is currently coordinating a study of the ground level working of Pradhan Mantri Grameen Avas Yojana through a case study of 10 villages in Maharashtra. Besides studying project implementation and quality also examining the role of the Panchayati Raj institutions and ways to strengthen it.