NESFAS had always looked up to the elderly members of its partner village communities as traditional knowledge holders, many of who are the custodians of it’s Food Network initiatives like millet, rice and honey and more. The organisation has been working closely with them over the last eight years on how one can preserve this indigenous heritage, which they see as the value chain in preserving the biodiversity hotbeds.
However, presently, the Coronavirus anvil has identified the elderly as one of the most vulnerable. Further to which, NESFAS initiated a pilot project with community members of Nongtraw (East Khasi Hills), one of the first communities to work with NESFAS who reached out to the organization for a need to understand precautionary measures. Keeping the tight knit nature of rural homes, distancing was difficult hence the need for constructing retrofit rooms was decided upon. The community first identified three out of the eight elders in the village who were vulnerable with lesser resources. With local construction contractors who was guided by The Indigenous Partnership (TI)P and NESFAS architecture and infrastructure consultants on comfort, ergonomics, self reliance, services, seismic design and use of local material resource in times of Covid-19 a design was worked upon.
To avoid delays and to set the ball rolling, Ms. Anita Roy and Mr. Phrang Roy, Chairman of NESFAS, contributed INR.30,600/- on Sunday, the 26th April 2020, which is part of the larger seed fund of INR One lakh that will be shared for retrofits with other villages NESFAS is working in. 50% of total cost will be contributed by the community and the other 50% raised by NESFAS staff and friends.
This hopes to demonstrate the need-based solutions to be activated during the pandemic at an efficient cost and time to safe guard our community’s assets…in this case the custodians of the traditional knowledge.