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250 Families Call Area 49 “Home”

Together with community members and homeowners, Habitat for Humanity Malawi (HFHM) completed building 250 homes in Lilongwe’s Area 49 in December, helping secure simple, decent housing for over 700 people previously living in the city’s Mgona, Mtsiriza, and Ntadile slums.


Homeowner Samuel Banda with his two children



Area 49 houses



The first 10 homeowners in Area 49

HFHM launched the Area 49 project in February 2005 in response to the need to move people out of the increasingly overcrowded slums, and to provide people with a more humane option to poverty housing. In an effort to recruit homeowners, three full-time community mobilizers worked throughout the three communities to raise awareness about the project. Although slums are a testament to the poverty and economic hardship faced by too many people, HFHM’s Area 49 project helped low income earners realize the dream of improved housing through the “House that Grows model”. The approach emphasizes the incremental building of a house, a process that ensures loan amounts stay low. The model helps make improved housing a reality for low-income workers. James Kapera, a homeowner who moved into Area 49 with his wife and four children, spoke with a joyful tone as he recalled the day his family moved into the community. “It has been my dream for a long time to build a house for my family, but I had to wait because I couldn’t afford it. The moment I brought my family to our new home and saw the expression on their faces made me feel very happy. It was the proudest moment of my life.” In addition to loan repayment, the homeowners also provided materials and labor toward building not only their own homes, but the homes of their future neighbors, helping to foster a sense of community long before the building in Area 49 was complete.

The completion of Area 49 represents more than just the provision of improved housing to people in need. Before moving into their new community, homeowners lived in cramped and unclean conditions that made them vulnerable to illness and water borne diseases. Water often leaked in through the floors and walls of the shacks, and toilets and bathrooms were shared between several families. To help prevent this in Area 49, the community was equipped with five water kiosks, and a drainage system is nearing completion. In this way, Area 49 provides hope for parents who now have the opportunity to raise their children in a cleaner, safer environment. It also helps instill a sense of community and pride among the homeowners. James Kapera, who lives in Area 49 with his wife and four children, said, “I am proud to be a part of transforming the lives of the people in Area 49 Habitat project and very happy that my family is part of it.”