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Safe And Secure Housing Should Be No. 1 Priority In Asia-Pacific, Says Habitat For Humanity

August 10th, 2011

Regional Housing Forum Focuses On Shelter Solutions In An Age Of Climate Change And Disasters


08_10_2011_Safe_And_Secure_Housing_No1_PThe 11th March earthquake and tsunami in Japan highlights the need for housing that is safe and secure. Photo: Mikel Flamm.

BANGKOK, 10th August 2011:
Cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding and the other adverse effects of a changing climate are becoming more common and are affecting more people across the Asia-Pacific region as populations grow.

Without better designed, better made housing, the effects will be ever more deadly, says a top leader of Habitat for Humanity International, the global non-governmental organization specializing in meeting the housing needs of the poor.

“The growing populations of Asia-Pacific countries need housing that doesn’t collapse in earthquakes or cyclones, and can be saved from rising floodwaters or volcanic ash. With 60 per cent of the world’s slum population living in the Asia-Pacific region, safe and secure housing has to be a number one priority,” says Rick Hathaway, Habitat for Humanity International’s Asia-Pacific vice-president.

Looking at effective solutions to protect Asia’s poor from the effects of natural disasters will be the core theme of the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum. The forum, that takes place once every two years, is to be held in Bangkok this September, and brings government representatives, NGOs, academics and private companies together to share experiences and propose solutions to the large, and growing, problem of inadequate housing.

“Millions of people across Thailand and the Asia-Pacific region are in need of somewhere to call home. This means more than somewhere that belongs to them, where children can learn and families can lead healthy lives. It also means housing structures ready for natural disasters,” Dr Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chairman of the board, Habitat for Humanity Thailand. “This is a huge challenge and region-wide sustainable shelter solutions are desperately needed.”

Some 800 participants, from more than 30 countries, are expected to attend the 3rd Asia-Pacific Housing Forum from 7th-9th September 2011. Registrations are currently being accepted at This year the Asia-Pacific Housing Forum will also include an exhibition, featuring technical and financial services and products that address shelter needs.

Confirmed speakers and contributors include:

• Anna Tibaijuka, Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements of the United Republic of Tanzania and former Executive Director of UN-HABITAT;

• Vice President Jejomar Binay, Republic of the Philippines; Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council;

• Suharso Monoarfa, Minister of Public Housing, Indonesia;

• H.E. Colonel Samuela A. Saumatua, Minister of Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Fiji;

• Somsook Boonyabancha, secretary general, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, Thailand;

• Ashvin Dayal, managing director (Asia), Rockefeller Foundation;

• Young-Woo Park, regional director and representative for Asia and the Pacific, UNEP, and

• André Herzog, Senior Urban Specialist, World Bank Institute

Since the start of the year, Thailand alone has already experienced a drought, an earthquake, flooding and landslides, leaving around 50 people dead and affecting more than one million people.