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Primary supervisor: Dr Emily So; Secondary supervisor: Professor Emeritus Peter Guthrie

Prachi Acharya


Research overview:

Housing subsidies remains a key strategy used by governments of low- and middle-income countries to bridge their low-income housing gap. Several countries provide such subsidies for rural welfare housing as direct cash transfers to recipients, conditional on achieving specific construction milestones through ‘self-help’. This is based on the presumption that recipients maximise benefits by choosing how to utilise the subsidy for house construction. Yet current approaches to ‘self-help’ rural welfare housing, with its technical focus on house-type specifications and quantitative focus on measuring success, fail to evaluate the processes through which these subsidy schemes are actually implemented on-the-ground. This thesis examines on-the-ground implementation strategies from the perspective of three crucial last-mile actors–subsidy recipients, masons and field staff–in the world’s largest self-help rural welfare housing scheme–India’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Grameen, which targets building 30 million houses between 2016-2022 for people living under extreme poverty. Despite its commendable objectives, this scheme since inception in 1996 has persistently reported problems in implementation and compliance with its spatial, temporal and disaster resilience requirements. Using mixed methods, this research examines the relationships between the scheme’s requirements, its actual practice and its implications on recipients’ welfare in peri-urban and rural flood-prone settlements in coastal India. 



Prachi is PhD candidate at the Cambridge University Centre for Risk in the Built Environment. Prior to starting her doctoral studies, among other research-based human settlements organisations, Prachi worked on social housing and disaster risk reduction with the United Nations Development Programme in India. She holds a MSc with Distinction from the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales and a Bachelor of Architecture from CEPT University, India. She is a member of St John’s College.