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Wealthy Channel Island Of Jersey Approves £41,436 Grant To Habitat For Humanity Papua New Guinea

50 Homes To Be Built In East Sepik Province

PORT MORESBY, 15th February 2006: In a land where 80 per cent of the population lives in poverty, some 300 people in Papua New Guinea will have a reason to smile – thanks to an unusual source, the Channel Islands in the English Channel off the coast of France.

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Inadequate: Traditional housing in Papua New Guinea lasts only up to five years

The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission has approved a £41,436 (US$72,306) grant which will provide the seed money for a Habitat for Humanity project to build safe and decent homes for 50 low-income families.

“This is the happy result of a strong developing relationship with Jersey Overseas Aid Commission,” says Lesley Davies of Habitat for Humanity Great Britain who arranged the deal.

“The JOAC first gave Habitat for Humanity a ‘trial’ grant in 2003 and have been awarding us grants ever since. The Commission are enthusiastic about Habitat’s self-build and no-profit mortgage aspects and were particularly interested in funding a Habitat project on another island,’’ Davies says.

Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, relies on financial services. The state-funded JAOC believes that the island, having benefited from globalisation and the resultant wealth, must return some of this wealth to alleviate global poverty and suffering.

Hence, the Commission says it is committed to the reduction of poverty, and supports health and medical projects, effective education, the provision of safe drinking water, adequate sewerage, food cultivation, self-help schemes and the elimination of child labor and abuse.

The JOAC grant will be used for the Habitat project in the predominantly rural East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea. The one-year project started in January and could be extended, depending on how well the project is implemented.

Traditional houses in the area are made from bamboo, untreated wood, palm leaves and grasses and only last up four to five years. A poor defence against diseases, pests and break-ins, these houses offer little in the way of privacy and study space for families.

The HFH project will help families to use durable materials such as iron roofing, wooden or fibrous outside walling, plywood interior walling and wooden floors to build houses that are estimated to last for more than 25 years.

Habitat for Humanity will work with the local Apangai community in to elect and establish management committees which will create five Save & Build groups. These groups comprise families selected based on their need, their ability to save and repay, and their willingness to work in partnership with Habitat.

The Save & Build groups will receive training and save together for building materials. Each group will need to save £381 (half the cost of a house) together before construction will begin. Once this has been achieved, work will begin on the first five homes. Timber milling began in January and construction work on the first five houses is expected to commence soon.

As the group saves another £381, five more houses will be built until all members of the S&B group have their own homes. At this point, the S&B groups will begin to repay their no-profit mortgages over three to five years.

All the repayments will go into a revolving fund to enable more families to join the Save and Build program and ensure the sustainability of the project. It is estimated that more than 400 homes can be built over an eight-year period with this grant.

Homeowner partners are also required to put in 300 to 400 hours of their own labor in building their own house as well as those of others in the group.

Not only will they learn financial management and construction skills, but they will also play an active role in improving their health and safety through better housing.

Habitat for Humanity has helped to build over 1,200 new homes with low-income Papua New Guineans since its start in 1982.