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Habitat Makes First Save & Repair Loans in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta* * * Families Use Micro-loans To Dig Wells And Renovate Homes

November 18, 2005

KIEN GIANG PROVINCE, 18th November 2005: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam has made its first round of micro-loans to 33 families in three villages in southwestern Vietnam’s Mekong delta region. The families will use the loans to make urgent repairs to their homes, install toilets or dig deep wells.

Working with partner group the Women’s Union, which helped select the families from among participants in its home improvement groups, Habitat distributed loans averaging US$231 per family. Some families were able to match the loans with their own savings.

The families will work with HFH Vietnam’s technical support team to ensure that building methods and materials are sound.

Among this first group of the 450 families targeted by the program is Phung Thi Dung from the village of Binh Lac.

She and her husband will use their VND5 million (about US$318) loan to begin Habitat’s step-by-step building approach, starting with building a solid foundation that will elevate their home above flood level, and putting in a floor. The old thatch roof on their shack is now leaning at a 15-degree angle and is imminent danger of collapse.

Chance to sleep at home: Phung Thi Dung’s micro-loan will go to repair her house, which is in imminent danger of collapse.

“We have been sleeping at the neighbor’s house for months, fearing the house will fall on us while we sleep,” explained Dung.

With Habitat’s guidance, Dung has joined with other women in her village to approach local building supplies vendors. Their combined purchasing power helps them negotiate cost incentives above what each could have received on her own.

In the village of Hoa Thanh, six women are investing their loans in deep tube wells to create reliable access to healthy drinking water. Access to clean water can be difficult in this area. Residents collect rain water but are often forced to use water from the river, which contains rubbish and raw sewage.

These six women are working with one local contractor, who has agreed to discount well-digging services and provide a one-year warranty on the wells. Habitat’s technical team taught the women to prepare high-quality cement to create a clean base around the wells once they are complete.

Healthy: a new well, financed by a micro-loan from Habitat, will give Truong Thi Hong and her family access to clean, safe drinking water.

One of the six women, Truong Thi Hong, who received a loan of VND 2,000,000 (US$125) explained that she and her husband added another VND500,000 (US$31) to the loan from their savings to purchase a water pipe and filter to ensure their drinking water supply was of a high standard

Hong and her husband plan to repay their loan within two years, then take out another loan to construct a foundation, new walls and eventually a new roof for their home.