Small Housing Repair and Sanitation Project

View of Leh old town and the 17th century palace
The traditional houses in Ladakh are built with stone, wood, mud bricks, soil and clay, using traditional construction methods and techniques, which are suited to the harsh environment of Ladakh (5 months of sub-zero temperature, reaching minus 25 degrees in severe winters) and the poor fuel resources of the region.

Today, those traditional houses in Leh old town are still inhabited, but many have decayed and are in need of repairs and improvements, however many of the residents do not have the financial means and skills to repair and secure their houses.

Every house has a different damage condition, some have critical structural damages, such as roof leakage, ceiling damage, broken and rotten wood structure, wall cracks, etc. which may cause the collapse of the house. Others have minor damages, such as broken windows and doors, peel off plaster, draughts in the house, parapet weathering, etc. Also, the houses do not have water supply line nor sewage for wastewater.

View of the damages on Leh old town houses. First, residents try to fix water leakage from the roof, with board, plasLc pieces, etc, unLl the damage is so big that the roof collapse.

“The Small housing repair and sanitation” project was conceived with the aim to create a self-help system, to help long-term residents of Leh old town to repair their houses, and in particularly to support the poor families to create the necessary conditions for repairing their houses and improve their living condition and basic infrastructure. The overall objective being to regenerate the old town and preserve these communities.

This project took the rehabilitation and upgrade approach, which included repairs of the damages and improvements to the existing houses. THF/LOTI artisans implemented the construction process using traditional building techniques and materials. The training of local builders and artisans is an important part of our projects.

The families worked together with THF/LOTI from day one; some families providing a part of construction materials (wood, mud bricks etc.,), some sharing a part of the costs and others working as labours, taking part on the daily project progress.

This rehabilitation and upgrading project supported 19 families and the total of 66 people were beneficiaries.
These projects were implemented in three communities: Stalam, Kharyok-Goksum and Stago-Philok neighbourhood in the Leh old town.

Small Housing repair and sanitation project location map. In blue the location of houses and in red the water sanitation projects.

Lakruk house View of Lakruk house and Shelkhang window
The construction date of the original part of the Lakruk house is unknown, but the front side was extended in the 1930’s. The owner of the house Mr. Anchuk asked if we could help him to seal the old chimney, make a skylight, repair the broken windows and improve the condition of the ‘glass’ room. After the repairs the tenants were very happy with the improvement, specially Rewa Tsering, the lovely cat who takes sunbath in the glass room.

Kargok-pa house
Ms Tsering Dechen is a single mother and she rents Kargok-pa house for the past 12 years living there with her two daughters. She has no financial conditions to repair the house and she asked for help to replace the weak ceiling structure, to make a new roof, build the parapet and repair the walls. Because of the structural damage of the walls, we had to reconstruct the walls and only after built the roof. After the roof was built, we made the parapets and seal them with slate stone to prevent water infiltration.

Ishey Zangmo house
Ms Ishey Zangmo is an elderly Tibetan lady who have been living in Leh for many decades. When she arrived in Leh she rented the house where she operated her own business of selling ‘Chang’ (local beer made of barley). Later she bought the house. Now she is very old and can’t work and therefore, has no economic conditions to repair her house. Currently her basic needs are provided by her younger sister’s family. The house had roof leakages, parapet damages and irregular floor. We repaired and improved the slope of the roof and upgrade the parapet with slate stones and paved the corridor and stairs with stone.

Kacho house Kasho house, repairing of roof. THF/LOTI team is working on the roof layer.
Mr Hussain is a 90 years old man who lives with his extend family in Kacho house. His wife’s family bought the house, and he joined the family when he married her. In 1962 the house was re-constructed and gradually upgraded. He asked help to repair the roof, gutters and the parapet and to fix a new door to the rooftop access. His son helped carry the construction materials and provided some mud bricks for repairing the parapet.

Sergal house Sergal house, mason Tashi Mutup repairing the parapet.
Mr. Kunzang Dechen has been living in the old town for more than 20 years, making his living as a skilled tailor. Since last 3 years he has rented Sergal house. The house had roof leakage caused by rainwater and snow that was not properly drained. Mr. Kunzang discussed the repair plan with the house owner and the owner contributed to the repairs with PVC pipe for the drain and money for boards for the wooden stairs. The roof and parapets were repaired and a gutter installed.

Kungyam-pa Khangsar house Kungyam-pa Khangsar house parapet and roof repair.
Khangsar house is a very tiny house rented by Mrs Ishey Dolma where she lives with her husband and her two sons. They moved from the far village of Kungyam to Leh and liveed in this house for the past two years. We helped the tenants to upgrade their house by making a new parapet with slate stone, improving the slope of the roof and fix a water gutter.

Tsering Lamstan house Tsering Lamstan house's owners, Ama Yuru and husband.
Mrs Tashi Yuron and her husband bought the house about 50 years ago and later they re-constructed the house. Mrs Yuron requested help to repair the roof leakages and the broken parapet. We renewed the roofing soil, improved the slope and upgrade the parapet with slate stone.

Gotal Murup house Rigzin Dolma and Dawa  making tea in their new kitchen in Gotal Murup house.
The tenant, Mrs Rigzin Dolma, is from Kardung village. She has been living in Leh for the past 20 years. She rented this house in 2016 and she lives in with her husband. The house has only one room that serves as living room, sleeping room and kitchen. Mrs Rigzin requested us help to build a wood partition to separate the kitchen from the other living space and to plaster the entrance wall. She contributed by making delicious tea for the workers.

Spon house On going roof repair of Spon house owned by Mrs Tseyang Dolma.
Spon house is owned by Mrs Tseyang Dolma, her family bought the house from Zartak-pa family about 60 years ago. She lives in the house with her three children. She requested help to repair the roof, parapet and drain. We did the repairs and she contributed with the PVC pipe for the gutter improvement and also paid for the mud bricks, which were used to upgrade the parapet.

Choldray house Mr Addul Masjid and wife helping install the PVC pipe at their house Choldray.
According to the owner Mr Addul Masjid, his family has been living in the house for four generation. He lives in the house with his wife and four children. He requested help to improve the parapet, repair the wooden stairs, improve the skylight with wood and glass and to pave an open terrace with stale stone. He contributed with the costs of the slate stone, mud bricks, PVC pipe and the wood for the stairs.

Choklung house THF/LOTi team building a roof for the stair way to the roof in Choklung house.
The elderly owner, Mrs Dorjey Dolma lives with her children and grandchildren in this house. She bought the house from Ganjoo Chanspa family 50 years ago. Like most of the houses in Leh old town this house has roof and parapet damage. This house has also water infiltrations from the ground. We repaired the roof and improved the slope, repaired the parapet with slate stone, built a close roof over the staircase and plaster the outer wall on the west side. The family was very happy, specially the elderly lady.

Nomo Chok house THF/LOTI team repairing the damages of the ceilings by changing the broken beams in Nomo Chok house. renewing the roof
Mr. Murup Tharchin’s father bought the house and re-constructed it 40 years ago. Because of his old age, he went to live with his children, presently the house is used by his relatives. Due to the lack of maintenance, the house decayed, having several problems. The structural beams on the ground floor were broken by the heavy load from the upper floors and the toilet has completely collapsed. The owner’s son Mr. Ngawang Tsering requested help from us. He shared the costs of the repairs and provided a part of the materials. He contributed for the re-construction of the toilet and bathroom. We started by repairing the damages of the ceilings by changing the broken beams, renewing the roof, improving the parapet with slate stone and adding a new gutter. The walls were plastered and a drainpipe was installed. The entrance was afterwards paved with slate stones and at the end the toilet and washing room was re-built.

Chagon house Chagon house 's owner Mrs Sonam Dolma with her daughter and grand daughter.
The family of Mrs Sonam Dolma has been living in this house for many generations, according to her, perhaps more than 100 years. She lives in the house with her son, daughter in law and grandchildren. Mrs Sonam Dolma requested help to repair the roof by improving its slope, parapet and adding new water gutters. She wanted as well to repair the stairs and make a closed roof with bricks, wooden frame and glass.

Tarchid Nangso house Tarchid Nangso house's owner Mr. Tashi Angchuk with THF/LOTI team at his house.
Mr. Tashi Angchuk is an elderly man who lives with his daughter, making his income by renting rooms in the house. One of his tenants, Ms Padma, approached us and asked if we could help to repair the house. Since the owner has not financial means to contribute, he negotiated with Ms Padma, his longtime tenant, a reduction of the rent. Ms Padma helped by providing labor work in the repair of the roof and parapet, as well as rebuilding the north side wall and pave the courtyard and entrance. A drainpipe was also installed.

Tsangspa house Tsangspa house' sowner Mrs Tsering Putit in her living room.
Mrs Tsering Putit bought the house about 20 years ago from Hanupa family. She heard that the original owners of the house were Singge Ghulam family. Currently, she lives with her daughter elsewhere and she rents a room to a tenant. The room has leakage and the roof’s parapet is damaged. Mrs Putit requested help to repair only the rooms where the tenant is living. We renew the roof, installed a sky-light, improved the parapet and add a rain gutter.

Mahey house Mr. Tsering Dorjey the owner of Mahey house  with his son.
This house was bought by Mr. Tsering Dorjey who moved in with his family in 2016. He requested help to repair his house and improve the living conditions. His priorities were to repair the roof and to have a room with good sunlight. He also wanted to improve the toilet and make a washing room in the house. He offered to contribute with construction materials, sharing the costs of repairing and also, as he is a mason, to contribute with his skills and work. We repaired the damaged wall and change the ceiling structure; renew the roofing soil, improved the slope and upgrade the parapet with slate stone. The old toilet was updated and a washing room made. Drainpipes for rainwater and the washing room water were installed. A large window was also installed for the sunroom.

Bijal house THF/LOTI team repairing Bijal house with the house Mrs Thaira Bano and neighbours.
Mrs Thaira Bano and her husband bought the house 30 years. In recent years they are renting a part of the house to tenants to get some income for the family. The older part of the house has roof leakage and parapet damage. We helped the family with the repairs, by renewing the roofing soil, improving the slope and adding two rain water gutters. We also upgraded the parapet with slate stone.

Tarchid house THF/LOTI team mixing mud and repairing the roof of Tarchid house.
Mrs Phunchok Zangmo and her family lives in this house in the past 15 years. When they bought it, they made some repairs but over the years the roof started to leak and the parapets weathered. The rainwater gutter was not working, and therefore the water was infiltrating into the wall. She requested help to repair the roof, parapet, add rainwater gutters and repair the wall. After implementing these small repairs, she was very happy.

Rokia Bano house Rokia Bano's roof was renewed and the walls and slope was improved.
Mrs Fatima Bano inherited the family house from her ancestors and she rents it out to a tenant. Although the house condition is very good, the roof has leakages and some walls had cracks. We renewed the roofing soil, improve the slope of the roof and repair the walls by applying plaster.

Water and sanitation in Leh Old Town THF/LOTI, after discussing with the residents, created a section of public gutter and water supply line. The gutter it is covered with a metal grid, which can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance purpose.
Leh has no proper sewage system and dirty water is thrown in the open drain or is disposed into individual soakage pits, which contaminate the ground water. But in the case of the Leh old town, even to make the soakage pit is quite a challenge due to limited space of the alleys and the hard solid rock ground.

Currently in Leh old town people need to collect the wastewater in buckets and carry it to the nearby disposal points on the street. Also, the water from rain and snow accumulates on the streets and gradually infiltrates in the buildings’ foundations and walls, causing critical damages to the buildings’ structure.

In this project THF/LOTI, after discussing with the residents, created a section of public gutter and water supply line. By considering the ground condition, we designed a concrete gutter, for which was necessary to dig down only about 30cm from the street level. The gutter it is covered with a metal grid, which can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance purpose. Water supply pipes were also laid adjacent to the gutter. The pipes were covered with insulation sponge and laid in sawdust, to provide better insulation. We paved the street surface with slate stone and made adequate slope toward the gutter. Now, rainwater and snow can drain well. We made 72 meters length of public gutter and water supply line. Seven households got the connections to their house. We organized a meeting among those households and discussed about the responsibilities of cleaning and maintenance of this public gutter. The households are going to apply for the permit to connect to the government water supply line in near future.

The water and sanitation project supported 7 families and benefited 24 people.

Project supported by SELAVIP/ACHR and house owners.

Copyright, Tibet Heritage Fund