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 Program Resume - Public Building Rehabilitation Project (MC)

 Duration: 31.12.1997 - 28.02.1998
 Location: Baku
 Donors: UNDP
 Members: SC
 Sectors: Capacity building


For more than five years, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees from Nagorno Karabakh relocated to safe havens in Azerbaijan. However, the majority of IDPs reside in substandard living conditions in collective centers: dormitories for students and workers, sanitariums and other public buildings which have not been maintained at least since independence.

The purpose of the USAID funded Public Buildings Rehabilitation Project is to rehabilitate public buildings to provide a modest level of safety, sanitation and winterization. The project implemented by Mercy Corps International, a US PVO and its partner HAYAT, an Azeri NGO, will rehabilitate 42 buildings located in the capital city Baku. So far 37 public buildings have been rehabilitated, where 3370 families reside (13826 individuals including 5832 children) . Work began in December 1996 and will be completed in March 1998.

Community organization is done in tandem with reconstruction. The aim is to involve the IDPs not only in the rehabilitation activities, but in the maintenance, upkeep and cleanliness of the repaired facilities.


Rehabilitation of buildings is carried out jointly by MCI and HAYAT. The project utilizes MCI's management and organizational structures and capabilities, and HAYAT's engineering expertise. Implementation is direct in that procurement of repair items is done by MCI and the labor force is directly contracted by our team. This way, items are procured according to MCI specifications as well as creates temporary employment opportunities for IDPs. So far 80% of the contracted labor comes from the IDP population.


Electrical Works:

  • replacement of the entire electrical installation throughout the building: provision of new cabling to panel boards, new electrical wiring including sockets, switches, light fittings, light bulbs and automatic circuit breakers in all rooms, new lighting in hallways, stair cases and all public areas
  • repair / rehabilitation of each buildings main and secondary panel boards, in addition to main cables and circuit breakers as necessary
  • repair / rehabilitation of all hot plates used by families by replacing defective heating coils, wires and plugs as necessary


  • Plumbing Works: installation of new canalization system (sewer drainage) and rehabilitation of toilets (latrines) throughout the building
  • rehabilitation of water supply pipes and installation of new sinks in kitchens and toilets rehabilitation of public shower areas by repairing gas boilers and installing new water supply pipes, faucets and shower heads
  • repair of gas piping throughout the buildings, and installation of new gas cooking ranges in all kitchens

Winterization & Environmental Sanitation

Roof Works:

  • rebuilding of roof top ventilation structures in brick
  • laying of new ruberoid membrane layer over the entire roof
  • repair of roof gutters and down pipes including the installation of new pipes where missing

Carpentry and Finishing Works

  • repairing all doors and windows in IDP rooms and public areas, including the replacement of broken or missing glass, repair/rehabilitation of broken doors and windows, and making and installing new doors where missing
  • repair and replastering of damaged wall by patching up holes where necessary
  • painting of all public areas including building entrances, hallways, staircases, kitchens, wash rooms and latrine areas

General Works:

  • cleanup of building and surrounding areas especially basements, stairwells and yard
  • construction of central garbage collection pits in yards with concrete floors and block walls
  • construction of gravel filled drainage pits for each building

Self- Help in Maintenance & Upkeep

In addition to the physical rehabilitation of the buildings, MCI-HAYAT strongly believe in the necessity of involving the community not only in the repair process but also in the maintenance and upkeep of their own buildings. Each building has a designated community organizer staff, who meets daily with the residents and assistants in:

  • organizing the community to maintain general cleanliness including the creation of duty rosters for cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, public areas and general building supervision
  • providing short lectures to the IDP community on issues of concern such as hygiene, women's health, child rearing etc.
  • surveying the buildings' residents to obtain family information needed to know number of adults, skilled workers, children in case of relief item distributions and the family place of origin

Self-Help Initiatives and Impact on the Lives of People

Sakhila, a martyr's widow and resident of one of the MCI buildings was charged with the daily clearing of construction debris. Shortly thereafter, she noticed that the construction workers were going to the market to buy lunch. She realized that a business opportunity was at hand. She set up a small canteen in an unused room near the lobby. She buys fresh produce from the market and provides hot meals for the workers in her canteen, charging about 1,500-2,000 manats per person. Not only does this generate income for Sakhila, but is saving a lot of time for the workers.

The project has had a significant positive impact on the lives of IDP residents, not only because it has resulted in a cleaner, safer living environment, and has provided employment opportunities to IDPs, but it has also renewed their sense of initiative where previously only despair and hopelessness had thrived. IDP women and children volunteer to assist work gangs clear and clean the premises and the work of the maintenance and upkeep committees is running smoothly. Children and women are spending more time in the hallways now than in their rooms and a sense of community is enhanced.

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