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

Habitatlas | International news | March 2011

Numbers on the map above correspond to the numbers below.

Habitat continues rebuilding efforts in HAITI

More than a year after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Habitat for Humanity continues rebuilding activities to support its goal of serving 50,000 families by providing a pathway to permanent housing.

More than 1,000 families received transitional or upgradable shelters by December 2010, with a total of 2,000 scheduled to be completed by the end of January 2011. This on top of more than 21,000 emergency shelter kits assembled and distributed and 2,000 structural damage assessments conducted. In addition, more than 500 Haitians have been trained in earthquake-resistant construction techniques and more than 200 Haitians have been hired to help in construction activities. In a nation with an unemployment rate of 60 percent, job opportunities are a crucial part of rebuilding.

Because of the immense need and Habitat’s long-term strategy, the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project will be in Haiti in both 2011 and 2012, leveraging the attention the project receives to bring renewed focus and funds to the massive rebuilding efforts. In 2011, the 28th annual Carter Work Project will take place in Haiti’s central plateau, which received an influx of earthquake survivors, straining already limited resources in communities that exist mainly from small-scale subsistence farming. The project will build houses with internally displaced families as well as existing communities already living well below the poverty line.

Habitat is implementing its recovery project through community-based Habitat Resource Centers. HRCs provide a range of services, including damage assessments, repairs and retrofits, assistance in securing land and tenure, loans of tools and equipment, materials fabrication, water and sanitary solutions, transitional shelter, shelter upgrades, and permanent houses. As the recovery progresses, housing microfinance will be introduced so that families can continue to manage home improvements and additions.

Learn more and to view photos and videos about Habitat’s efforts in Haiti.


During the 1970s and 1980s, a mass urbanization policy in Macedonia called for faster construction of houses, often meaning that little attention was paid to the quality and energy features of building materials. As a result, monthly energy bills can be the most costly item for many households. And according to official data, household heating accounts for up to 40 percent of Macedonia’s total energy consumption.

In an effort to help improve the situation, Habitat Macedonia has initiated a pilot project around the capital city of Skopje and in the northern city of Kumanovo to finance the replacement of old windows and doors in dilapidated apartment buildings, helping to better insulate the homes of low-income families. A planned expansion will eventually upgrade 24 buildings and create a revolving loan fund with the help of investors and local governments to finance efficiency-related renovations.


Throughout Colombia’s history, the Sucre region has suffered the consequences of numerous armed conflicts, often leading to forced evictions for many families.

Displaced families have concentrated in neighborhoods in the city of Sincelejo, often crowding into houses in barrios like Altos de Rosario and 17 de Septiembre.

Habitat Colombia — along with partners Accion Social, Comfasucre and the government of the Balearic Islands of Spain — is building houses with a group of 33 of these families. International volunteers have helped with construction, pouring foundations and laying brick. In addition to creating housing opportunities, the project provides education in conflict resolution and citizen coexistence.

“It was an experience that left important teachings with everyone in the community about integrating and participating in the construction of their own homes,” says new Habitat homeowner Julian Carmona.


Habitat Kenya was among key housing stakeholders participating in a 2010 exhibition organized by the national Ministry of Housing to showcase best practices in the area of human settlement.

During the exhibition, participants called on the government to improve infrastructure, a move that could trigger development and help reduce the cost of housing construction. Awards were given to the best five performing exhibitors, and Habitat Kenya was among those recognized for its exemplary role in providing decent and affordable houses to more than 4,500 families in Kenya.


Habitat China is launching its first project within the Shanghai metropolis to improve the living conditions of elderly people living in China’s largest city.

Shanghai has been described as the first “aging city” in China. By the end of 2009, more than 3 million of the city’s residents were older than 60. These elderly residents often live in aging public apartments not suited to the special needs of the elderly or disabled.

Similar to a previous Habitat China project in Hong Kong, volunteers will renovate or repair the homes of 20 elderly families in the initial phase of the “Shanghai Age-Friendly Housing Renovation Project.”

In addition, at the end of 2010, Habitat China marked another first when business leaders and volunteers took part in a special one-day build funded by Liverpool Football Club in Pinghu county on the outskirts of Shanghai.


Habitat Taos has facilitated a major rehab of a 100-year-old adobe house to preserve the historic structure and provide Margaret Fernandez a safe and warm place to live.

With a fixed income and rheumatoid arthritis, Fernandez was unable to keep up with her home’s maintenance needs. The adobe and wood features of the house — built in 1913 by Fernandez’s grandparents — had deteriorated substantially, and the roof had begun to leak.

Compiling grants and resources from HUD’s Home Improvement Partnership Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Services and area housing support agencies, Habitat pulled together enough funding to replace the roof and replaster the house, pour a new bond beam to stabilize the structure, and update the kitchen and bathroom.

The memories Fernandez cherishes of growing up in the house and absorbing “spiritual nurture, respect for people and appreciation for the gifts of our Creator” are as important to her as the physical structure. “Always the house, the home, was a magnet to come back to,” she says. “Now that it is refurbished, it’s going to be a place where family can gather again, and friends.”


Habitat Fiji has launched a project with funding from UNICEF to refurbish water and sanitation facilities at four boarding schools that will also serve as evacuation centers in the event of a disaster. The improvements will not only benefit students but also the surrounding communities that will be more prepared if a disaster strikes. The schools are located on the island of Taveuni, one of the main islands among the 300 that make up Fiji.

Separately, Habitat Fiji has received more than US$47,000 from the Japanese embassy in Fiji to design and build three community water systems for more than 200 low-income families living on the main island of Viti Levu.


Habitat — in partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the United Nations — will draw attention to regional housing issues in April by holding an inaugural regional housing forum in Budapest.

Housing challenges in Europe and Central Asia are diverse, from dilapidated housing stock to large vulnerable groups with no access to housing finance. And with a scarcity of regional natural resources, energy efficiency has become a primary concern.

The aim of the first Europe and Central Asia Housing Forum is to examine housing issues in the region to find action-based solutions and ideas. The ambition of the forum is to become an agenda-setting event, while providing a platform for exchange and consensus-building among people committed to the cause of sustainable and resilient housing for all. To learn more, visit


The sale of a photograph recently contributed to providing one South African family with a decent home.

In October, French photographer Amelie Debray’s exhibition “Footprints” opened at the Wessel Snyman Creative Gallery in Cape Town. The exhibition showcased her collection of photographs of the bare feet of people who have left indelible footprints on South African society and culture.

The highlight of the opening was the auction of a print of her Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu photograph. The gavel was hit at 10,000 rand (nearly US$1,400) with the buyer bidding on behalf of the gallery itself and announcing a matching donation to Habitat South Africa. “For our organization, the 10,000 rand represents in excess of 10 percent toward taking a family out of a poverty dwelling and moving them into a simple, decent home. We are very grateful,” says Peter Francis, Habitat South Africa’s national resource development and communications manager.

Archbishop Emeritus Tutu is a patron of Habitat South Africa. In 2004, he was instrumental in securing the Kenneth Kaunda Work Project which resulted in 27 houses being built in Mamelodi Pretoria. And in 2007, Tutu visited a Habitat build site in Mfuleni to thank more than 100 international volunteers who had gathered to build a dozen homes as part of the Desmond Tutu Community Build.