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Habitatlas | International news | June 2011 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Habitatlas | International news | June 2011

Numbers on the map above correspond to the numbers below.

Fifth annual Habitat on the Hill offers advocacy opportunity
Habitat for Humanity supporters might typically be more comfortable on a build site, but they have become increasingly savvy at advocating for affordable housing. Habitat’s fifth annual Habitat on the Hill event took place in February, enabling U.S.-based staff and volunteers to talk with legislators in Washington, D.C.

In a year that has featured a high-profile debate over the federal budget, access to decision-makers takes on increasing urgency. One of Habitat’s U.S. advocacy priorities this year is preserving resources that help bolster the work of Habitat affiliates nationwide.

This year’s Habitat on the Hill event was again organized by Habitat for Humanity International’s D.C.-based Office of Government Relations and Advocacy. More than half of this year’s attendees had never participated in Habitat on the Hill before, and they deemed it an overwhelming success. Workshops were followed by visits to Capitol Hill offices for talks with U.S. legislators.

Staff and volunteers came from Habitat affiliates and state support organizations in congressional districts identified as key to Habitat’s domestic and international agendas: neighborhood revitalization, self-help housing solutions for veterans and military service members, foreign-assistance reform, and housing for Haiti.

“We have a new Congress this year, and we want to build new relationships,” says Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford. “I think we have been very successful in working with legislators across the political spectrum. We know that Habitat for Humanity can be as much about changing and improving systems that enable access to decent housing, as about building and renovating homes.”

 


A by-the-numbers look at the 2011 edition of Habitat’s annual advocacy event:
‘Habitat on the Hill’ in Washington, D.C. Illustration by Ben Skudlarek.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors has added Bosnia and Herzegovina to the list of countries where Habitat works.

Habitat operates in partnership with leading microfinance institution LOK. A €13 million (about USD$18.3 million) project aims to serve more than 25,000 families over the next five years. With funds secured from another Habitat partner, the Dutch International Guarantees for Housing Foundation, LOK will offer affordable loans to low-income families for home-improvement purposes. Habitat will develop these housing microloans and assist with hiring and training loan officers, as well as provide project management.

At a later stage, Habitat and LOK plan to work with condominium associations on loans for energy-efficient renovations.

   

Malawi
Habitat Malawi has started a one-year pilot partnership to provide technical assistance to new partner families.

For many families in Malawi who live in substandard conditions but would struggle to pay a full mortgage, solutions can include building in stages, room additions, incremental housing, or the renovation or repair of an existing dwelling. Partnering with Select Financial Services Malawi, Habitat will be able to assist certain categories of low-income earners in the capital city of Lilongwe, helping families acquire land and homes or improve their existing housing conditions.

Under the terms of the partnership, Habitat Malawi will offer participating families recommendations of appropriate building materials and methods, help with legal requirements and documents for land title, simple house plans, and other assistance.

   

Habitat Northern Ireland
Habitat Northern Ireland has announced a three-year commitment to send nearly USD$250,000 to support projects in Ethiopia. The funds will develop an innovative and holistic Habitat program that will focus on delivering new homes, energy-efficient eco-stoves and clean water for leprosy-affected families.

This new commitment adds to Habitat Northern Ireland’s efforts in Ethiopia, which have already resulted in 150 homes. The ongoing partnership first began after a Global Village team from the University of Ulster traveled to Ethiopia in 2005 to work in a community where many families have been affected by leprosy.

“The first trip to Ethiopia was the start of a life-changing partnership,” says the Rev. Raymond McCullagh, a team leader from the University of Ulster. “The generous support of communities across Northern Ireland has enabled us to build houses, community and hope for some of the poorest people in the world.”

   

India
More than 60 alumni of premier schools and colleges in India and abroad worked with Habitat India in a two-day Ivy Leaguers Build.

The February build was in the village of Kawatewadi, Karjat, outside Mumbai. Volunteers, who included graduates of notable American and Indian universities, worked with Habitat homeowners to mix clay for cement and to lay bricks to build the walls of four houses, as well as to paint external walls. The build was part of Habitat India’s effort to provide 200 families in Karjat with solid, permanent homes.

Special guests included Rajashree Birla, chairperson of Habitat’s IndiaBUILDS campaign, and Ron Terwilliger, former chairman of Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors. At the end of the build, Birla and Terwilliger dedicated two houses with K. Sankaranarayanan, governor of Maharashtra state where the build was held.

“Housing is a fundamental need, which has a direct bearing on the quality of life,” Sankaranarayanan told The Times of India. “Initiatives such as IndiaBUILDS will, therefore, have a far-reaching impact on India’s poverty alleviation crusade.”

Habitat’s IndiaBUILDS campaign aims to serve 100,000 families by 2015.

   

Sri Lanka
In response to flooding throughout the country, Habitat Sri Lanka has distributed emergency shelter kits and clean-up kits.

S. Shanthirakaram is among those who received a kit from Habitat. The 46-year-old fisherman and his family of seven live in a thatched house in Thiraimdhu village in Batticaloa. When the roof of their house was badly damaged, the family relocated to a temporary shelter for more than two weeks.

“There was no way we could have stayed in the house,” he says. “Not only was it unsafe, but I was worried for the children with so much water around us.”

Shanthirakaram’s fears were allayed when Habitat helped to install a new roof. “I’m very thankful to Habitat,” he says, “for providing us with the new roof, heavy plastic sheeting which we can use for flooring and the lantern so we can have light in the evenings.”

The kit distribution, funded with a grant from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission through Habitat Great Britain, is Habitat Sri Lanka’s first disaster response since its 2005-2008 tsunami projects.

 


Habitat Sri Lanka staff prepare clean-up kits for families affected by recent
flooding. Photo by Mikel Flamm.

Paraguay
Indigenous groups in Paraguay represent roughly 2 percent of the population. The more than 10,000 people that make up that percentage often face problems with land tenure, a pervasive disrespect for ancestral traditions, and a struggle to access basic services such as health, education and housing assistance.

Habitat Paraguay is participating in a national project to help address the needs of one indigenous settlement located just outside of Neuland. Precarious housing conditions, overcrowding, unemployment, hunger, malnutrition and lack of access to clean water prevail in Cayin o’ Clim, a settlement of 1,800 residents.

With support from several organizations, a group of 80 families in Cayin o’ Clim created a project that has been approved by Paraguay’s National Fund for Social Housing. The project utilizes government housing subsidies and individual donations to relocate families to a nearby plot of land donated by the Indigenous-Mennonite Cooperative Services Association. Habitat Paraguay will provide specialized technical assistance to the relocating families.

   

South Africa
Two men, two bikes and eight countries all add up to create an adventure with a conscience.

Ricki Hodgson and Davey Du Plessis are cycling through Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique before heading home to South Africa in July. The aim of their campaign is to help make a tangible difference in the lives of the people they meet along the way. The duo selected Habitat South Africa as one of two nonprofits to benefit from the sponsorships and donations they obtain.

“As we cycle, we hope to show the public the great work that Habitat for Humanity is doing throughout the continent in the various countries we visit along the way,” says Hodgson. “We also hope that our efforts will help raise enough money to finance the building of a house (or houses) for those in need.”

Regular posts about the team’s trip can be found at www.throughafricaforafrica.com.

   

Japan
Since beginning a national program in 2003, Habitat Japan has become a leader in sending funds and volunteers to other Asian countries where Habitat is at work. The heartbreaking results of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami mean Habitat Japan must now look at new needs within its own borders.

“We regularly send local and Japanese-based foreign volunteers, more than 800 a year, to support projects overseas,” says Kentaro Yamazaki, Habitat Japan’s national office manager. “Now help is needed on [our own] doorstep.”

To supply that help, Habitat is coordinating with government agencies and other nonprofit organizations to determine how to best support relief and rebuilding efforts. Habitat Japan’s recent call for volunteers resulted in a long list of people willing to help with clean-up and rebuilding efforts.

To learn more or to support Habitat’s efforts in Japan, visit habitat.org/japan.