Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Kaushal Shetty, an entrepreneur working to make the world a better place through his work with Nostos Homes. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: Great to have you here with us today, Kaushal—welcome! So, you’re the co-founder and CEO of Nostos Homes. Can you tell me what challenge you are addressing?
Kaushal: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Did you know that, in India, 5 million people are displaced every year due to disasters, and an additional 19,000 people are displaced due to violent conflict? Globally, about 86.5 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide every year and have to face the realities that deny them a dignified life and fulfillment of their opportunities. They are left stranded in transient community shelters till aid agencies create new homes. In this period, lack of proper housing hampers their health, education, and employment. That is where Nostos Homes comes in.
Spiffy: Was there a personal motivation?
Kaushal: Early on, I lived near the banks of the river Suvarna in India. I grew up close to a marginalized community of sustenance rice farmers. Every year, when it starts raining, the flooding of the river would destroy their crops and wash away their mud homes. This annual cycle of flooding forced them into survival-mode living situations. These families were left stranded without homes which added to the ripple effect that impacted their employment, their kids’ education, and their family’s health.
Spiffy: Wow, that’s really rough. Can you tell us about how you are using Nostos Homes to work towards a more equitable world?
Kaushal: Nostos Homes is the first-of-its-kind innovative temporary shelter to house people immediately after a disaster or in the intermediate-term. It aims to better the lives of these communities instead of simply providing a roof over their heads. The design concept of Nostos revolves around the idea of delivering the “whole package”, including living spaces and solar panels. Each unit houses a single family and hence offers privacy, personal dignity, and safety in times of crisis.
Spiffy: Is there a recent Nostos milestone or initiative you want to share, and the impact it makes?
Kaushal: Well, we’re extremely excited to share with you that Nostos Homes has reached an incredible milestone—the world’s first Nostos community was recently built in Northern Karnataka! Each of these shelters enable around 32,500 people and reduce health hazards while helping residents gain a sense of safety, permanence, and psychological safety. Over the next year, Nostos aims to deploy more than 100 shelters to those affected by forced displacement due to cyclones or floods.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Kaushal: The criticality of the problems we are trying to solve has increased significantly due to COVID-19. For instance, populations that are displaced now have the added danger of being exposed to the virus. In places like Nagaland, India, the healthcare infrastructure is inaccessible due to hilly terrain, and roads that become non-motorable during monsoons. We are trying to solve this by deploying Nostos Homes to augment primary healthcare centers so as to reach the most inaccessible and geographically remote communities in the state.
Spiffy: Is there something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently that you want to share before I let you go?
Kaushal: Speaking with affected people, I understood that the effects of forcible displacement don’t end with the loss of shelter and belongings. When people are forcibly displaced, they lose their sense of security, livelihoods, and are faced with increased instances of diseases. Seeing displaced families interact with these homes showed me just how much we take for granted—all the way from a roof over one's head to a sense of stability and security that comes with robust homes.
Spiffy: Thanks for talking with me today, Kaushal—it’s been an honor!
Kaushal Shetty is the co-founder and CEO of Nostos Homes, a non-profit building the first-of-its-kind sustainable emergency shelters for people displaced due to natural disasters. These homes act as a scalable, data-driven, low-cost, rapid-deployment solution for the affected areas. Kaushal also works as Product Manager at Mastercard and his work has received recognition from the World Bank, IFC, the Diana Award, COINS UK, and Saint Gobain. (First published on the Ladderworks website on January 31, 2022)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.