Sustainable Habitat and WASH

Even after six decades of India’s independence, over 40 million of its people do not have a pucca roof over their heads, 60% families still defecate in the open and more than 30% village inhabitants, still spend their nights in darkness. The DA group, since its inception, has been striving to find ways to bridge the housing gap in rural areas and make affordable habitat available, to a vast majority of the poor. DA recognised very early, the connection between the growing need for shelter and infrastructure, and the ecological limits of energy and material resources. Limited natural resources and adverse environmental impacts have now; become a major area of concern as the world grapples with changing climate. DA was amongst the first in the country to innovate climate mitigating building technologies that would address the need for growth, in an ecologically responsible manner.

The group has a thorough understanding of the rural and urban affordable habitat systems; and has addressed the entire value chain of eco-habitat by understanding the need, analysing the latent demand, innovating eco-technology and delivery solutions. In order to engage corporate and policy actors for demand creation and facilitating mechanisms to mainstream eco-building in rural areas.

Our work encompasses:

Eco-building technology and product development: An emphasis is laid on development of energy and resource efficient, nature-friendly construction technologies;  which can be delivered through decentralised means in villages and small towns, using local resources and skills. This can generate sustainable livelihoods at a large scale, while making affordable eco-products and services available to rural families. A range of pre-fabricated resources, and energy efficient building products and technologies are on offer.

Systems of delivery of eco-products and services: The DA group has designed equipment, tools for production of these innovative materials and their application. These are marketed to producers of construction material in rural and peri-urban market space. DA also works with small entrepreneurs across the country and transfers technology; provides technical support and helps set-up individual and community group based building material manufacturing units. These small businesses are called sustainable enterprises based on sustainable technology solutions for the masses.
Over 1500 small entrepreneurs in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharshtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Punjab; are currently supplying eco-products at affordable prices to construct eco-friendly homes, shops and public buildings in villages. Over 50,000 families have benefitted and more that 100,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created. DA calls these jobs sustainable livelihoods, as these are based on sound ecological-social and economic sustainability parameters.

Skill Building: EcoOver the years, the DA group has developed special artisan training modules; for each one of the technologies it promotes. DA’s skill building engine conducts regular trainings for artisans, orientation programs for building professionals and government officials on eco-construction techniques. TARA Karigar Mandal (TKM), a 120-member strong artisans cooperative operating from the central Indian region of Bundelkhand, are eco-construction delivery-agents who provide the required “green skills” for construction of houses and public buildings. They also train other masons on “disaster-safe and green” construction across the country. Over 5000 masons have been trained by this team in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Punjab, Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Fulfillment of basic needs of habitat – affordable green habitat at a large scale: The DA group provides technical and management services to promote the concept of affordable eco-habitat at a large scale. Our Building Centre provides green building consultancy services to governments and institutions, as well as rural and urban communities. This support in the form of participatory design processes, technology assessment and selection, construction management and training has been integrated with post disaster reconstruction programs; across Maharashtra , Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, and through large programmatic interventions in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

DA works through community partnerships with Civil Society Organisations (CSO) to reach out to local governments and communities; fulfilling the basic needs of shelter, clean water and domestic energy solutions in a clean and green manner. We work with over a 100 CSO partners in India and South Asia; providing training, orientation, transfer of technology, technical and management support in various big and small interventions.

In addition, DA provides services to bundle carbon credit benefits for small enterprises, so that financial incentives are available to promote the green building products; another way to de-constrain supply of eco-building products.

Outreach and policy influence: DA has recognised the need for demand creation for eco-friendly building products, at a large scale. Demonstrations at various locations and in strategic public buildings (including  the prestigious DA World headquarter building in New Delhi) , the group actively works with the corporate sector, such as cement giants ACC and Ambuja Cements to create awareness on sustainability concepts in building and a market for eco-construction.

DA works with the governments at Central and State level; to influence public policy towards greater application, and use of energy and resource efficient building technologies. It has documented and analysed “good practices” in construction with a focus on eco-construction across the country. It has advocated for a National Rural Habitat Policy for India that puts the nature and the poor at the centre. This policy document has influenced housing policies at the Centre as well as at the State level. DA is now actively working with the governments of Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar; to integrate the concept of “green building” in their policies and programmes for housing and public infrastructure. Our initiative to bring sustainability as a guiding factor in habitat planning has been translated into a nationwide campaign called the Lok Awas Yatra – a journey for eco-habitat (

DA's knowledge and lessons from its experiences have been compiled into a large number of knowledge products. These include good practice documentation, eco-construction assessments, design methodologies, technology packages, training modules, eco-housing finance products, building energy and carbon calculators. These are available through the DA resource library and its websites. A major avenue for reaching out is the Basin-South Asia Regional Knowledge Platform on rural habitat (



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Sustainable Urban Social Housing

With the housing sector being one of the most resource intensive sectors, there is a lack of balance between scale and adaption in social and environmental aspects of affordable housing. The concept of sustainability is still lacking not only in the government policies and schemes, but also amongst the private developers. The case studies highlight the three scenarios that are primarily existent in the Indian housing market today.

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Accelerating Clean and Low Carbon Technology Initiatives in the Indian Brick Sector

Through this initiative, Development Alternatives (DA) intends to create a preferential policy regime to accelerate the adoption of cleaner brick production technologies. The aim is to contribute to India’s capacity in enhancing energy security while mitigating greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by improving the energy efficiency of the brick sector.

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Low Carbon Construction Training

The Government of India has recognised the need for action in the Low Carbon, Climate Resilient (LCCR) sector. However, there is a lack of attention towards the 70 million strong rural spaces and small towns which are emerging as areas of high growth. Knowledge Development and Dissemination for Promoting Low Carbon Construction in Rural Areas and Small Towns of India and South Asia” is an initiative undertaken by the Development Alternatives (DA) Group, supported by the Climate, Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN) that aims to bridge this gap.

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