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HFH Vietnam And Partner Invest More Than US$171,000 To Help Over 700 Needy Families in Vietnam

Pilot project to provide housing microfinance, shelter, water and sanitation improvements to the poor in Mekong Delta

RACH GIA, Kien Giang province, 24th March 2006: The signing of a memorandum of agreement on 20th March brings Habitat for Humanity International a step closer to achieving its five-year strategic plan for stronger partnership with the Vietnamese provincial authorities.

HFHI-Vietnam has set its sights to serve 18,000 families through housing microfinance, vocational and technical training, and technical support in shelter, water and sanitation improvements by 2011.

Strengthened: (From left) Tran Doc Thanh, general secretary of Kien Giang Friendship Union, Le Van Hong, vice-chairman of Kien Giang Friendship Union, Peter Gape, Habitat’s regional program manager and Mark Estes, HFHI-Vietnam’s country representative, at the signing of the MOA.

Habitat and its partner Kien Giang Province’s People’s Committee have already invested US$115,000 into a pilot project which started in October 2005. This project is called “Building pro-poor shelter services: Creating shelter equity funds and home improvement services for the poor”. It aims to reduce the poverty level in three districts in Kien Giang, a province in southern Vietnam.

The MOA covers the investment of another US$56,127 into the pilot project to help at least another 215 families. The amount comprises US$53,455 contributed by Habitat and the remaining US$2,672 by the Kien Giang Friendship Union, representing the provincial People’s Committee. Habitat’s contribution includes a US$3,455 donation from MoneyGram.

So far, more than 500 families in Hon Dat, Chau Thanh and An Bien districts, stand to benefit from the pilot project. This figure already exceeds HFHI-Vietnam’s original target of assisting 450 families in the first year of the project.

With the additional investment, the project will help more families in Chau Thanh and Hon Dat districts.

The Women’s Union of Kien Giang is implementing the project by selecting families for loans that it will provide with the funds invested by Habitat and Friendship Union. It will also collect repayments and report to Habitat and Friendship Union on project progress, loan portfolio management as well as social and economic indicators related to individual, family and community transformation.

The Women’s Union is an active mass organization responsible for promoting the rights and empowerment of women in Vietnam at national, provincial, district, commune and village levels.

The home partner families have to meet the criteria of having a monthly per capita income of less than 300,000 Vietnam dong (about US$19), showing the ability to repay loans and being willing to provide their own labor in making their sustainable house improvements.

Besides providing loan capital, Habitat will also render technical assistance in low-cost construction technology to loan recipients.

The Friendship Union is the contact agent authorized by the People’s Committee, the executive arm of the provincial government, to negotiate, sign and allocate projects to non-governmental organizations in Kien Giang.

In appreciation of non-governmental organizations’ contributions to alleviating poverty in Kien Giang, the provincial authorities held a recognition ceremony on 15th March. Besides Habitat, 17 other NGOs including Swiss Red Cross, Christina Nobel’s Children Foundation and Heifer International were lauded for their work in the province.

Habitat was cited for making a great contribution to the effort of improving socio-economic conditions of the Kien Giang people. This is through its partnership with Friendship Union and Women’s Union in the project to create shelter equity funds and home improvement services for the poor.

During the ceremony, HFHI-Vietnam’s country representative Mark Estes received a certificate of appreciation on Habitat’s behalf and highlighted four initiatives for 2006.

HFHI-Vietnam’s four initiatives include:
Expansion of the pilot project to create shelter equity funds and home improvement services for the poor in the three districts of Hon Dat, Chau Thanh and An Bien using the revolving fund generated by repayments.
Replication of the current pilot project in two to four more districts (based on fund availability).

Proposal for a new project in income generation/micro enterprise development and HMF initiative through Ford Foundation’s support. This new project is planned for Go Quao district in Kien Giang province.

Proposal for a water and sanitation project with funding by a UK foundation. The funds of about US$15,000 will be used to provide 75 families in Giong Rieng district, Kien Giang province with clean water and health sanitation systems.

With Habitat’s help, more than 700 families in Kien Giang province will move towards more decent and affordable homes.