Room to grow -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Room to grow
With the Blue Sky Build 2010, Habitat Mongolia prepares to increase its impact.
Mongolia, “land of the blue sky," volunteers Tim Hourigan, John Barker and Erdenetsogt Sodon (left to right) work alongside Habitat Mongolia carpenter Tsagaankhuu Otgonbayar (at back) on the construction of future homeowner Gantumur Badamdulam’s house. Photo by Steffan Hacker
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Room to Grow
Mongolia, the Land of Blue Sky and infinite horizons. Deserts and mountains. Short, hot summers and long, numbing winters.
The most sparsely populated independent country in the world, Mongolia is home to 2.9 million people, some 20 percent of whom live on less than US$1.25 per day.
Habitat for Humanity began working in Mongolia in 2000 and provides both new construction and renovation opportunities to families in need. Those who build new houses usually do so through a Save and Build program in which families save at least 40 percent of the cost of the house before construction begins.
Their savings are combined with Habitat funds, and the family contributes 400-500 hours of labor with their neighbors. After construction is complete, the family continues to pay off the remaining house costs. A Save and Renovate program helps families with very low incomes by offering smaller loans to repair their current housing.
This June, hundreds of volunteers will gather in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, for the Blue Sky Build 2010. While the event marks Habitat’s accomplishments in serving 1,500 families during its 10 years in Mongolia, it also launches an ambitious campaign to build 1,000 more houses in just three years. Volunteers will help build 30 houses June 28-July 2 with families currently living in traditional ger tents.
- Ulaanbaatar, at 1 million people the largest city in Mongolia, is home to almost a third of the country’s population.
- Two out of five Mongolians live in substandard and inadequate housing.
- The Mongolian ger, or yurt, is a round dwelling traditionally made from a wood frame and covered in thick felt. As the population has urbanized, gers have become overcrowded and often lack connections to central heating and water systems.
- Habitat houses are 32 to 36 square meters (344 to 388 square feet) and are made of wood, brick, cement blocks, and tin or tile roofs. They are insulated to withstand -40 degree Celsius temperatures.
Sources: Habitat for Humanity Mongolia, United Nations Development Programme