Partnerships key to HFH Nepal’s success -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Partnerships key to HFH Nepal’s success

By Aruna Paul Simittrarachchi

Partnerships are key to HFH Nepal’s success. HFH has become the first organization in Nepal to introduce access to adequate and affordable housing in the eastern region of Nepal. The success of this program has led to starting a similar one in western Nepal.

Through partnerships, HFH Nepal has been able to accomplish a lot in the last two years:

  • Assisting 1,512 families in two years to get better housing, compared to 830 families assisted in eight years through HFH’s traditional conventional method.
  • The investment per family by HFH or other donors has been limited to an average of US$300, with the group and home partners contributing an average of US$600 to complete their houses, resulting in 100 percent repayment at 12 percent administrative expense for HFH.
  • To date we have served 2,214 families and have been instrumental in promoting:
  • Better health conditions Appropriate replicable technology, which is recognized by the communities
  • Improved living and social conditions for the partner families
  • Dignity and recognition
  • A sustainable revolving fund to assist more families as a result of 100 percent repayment
  • Leadership training, especially for women
  • Housing solutions

Methodology
Habitat for Humanity strives to construct simple, decent, affordable houses and adheres to the highest standards of construction to bring about quality housing even to the poor and the deprived.

Housing can become cost effective when scientific knowledge and expertise are used to transform the traditionally and culturally accepted practices of construction into more environmentally and user-friendly methodologies and when the appropriate use of locally available materials is encouraged.

This is possible when HFH can work with organized groups at the grassroots level by engaging them in decision-making at all levels. In Nepal, this began when we identified some of the well-established microfinance institutions and/or savings groups that were like-minded, with complementary objectives, and have already achieved extraordinary results.

Once identified, HFH Nepal assisted their members by providing training in cost- effective, safe and environmentally friendly construction technology, and advice on different construction designs to suit their different shelter needs so as to add housing as another product to their own microenterprise.

Further, HFH facilitated and supported local community groups to elect a management committee for the housing project and then provided training in project management, beneficiary selection, construction, finance, debt repayment, health issues, community development and good governance. The management committee chooses the home partners regardless of race, religion or gender in keeping with HFH’s policy of equal opportunity and non-discrimination.

These organizations were international nongovernmental organizations like World Vision and ADRA SOS Children’s Village; NGOs like Samjhauta Nepal, Sahara Nepal, Nari Bikas, Jeevan Bikash Samaj, Lumanthi and Samuhik Hatemelo Seva Samuha; and CBOs — mainly the network of Village Banks formerly initiated by PACT International, but currently facilitated through the network of Samjhauta Nepal.

The aim of HFH was to expand their existing services of microfinance, women empowerment and advocacy, adult literacy and vocational training, clean water and sanitation, and environmental awareness and include the opportunity for low-income families to own a safe, decent and affordable home.

Spotlight on ADRA-HFH Nepal partnership

ADRA Nepal, an international nongovernmental organization, has been working in Nepal since 1987. ADRA is actively involved in humanitarian assistance and in community empowerment through rural women’s groups focusing on literacy and better health. After a series of exploratory meetings, HFH and ADRA Nepal started to work collaboratively.

Implementation

In partnership with ADRA, Habitat for Humanity Nepal launched the first pilot program to assist 200 families from remote, rural women’s groups with which ADRA Nepal had worked for more than six years.

Its objectives were:

  • The introduction of housing microcredit, and the construction of safe, decent, affordable, sustainable, cost-effective housing.
  • To help empower women from excluded social groups.

Result and impact

  • We have reached our target number of families, and 206 families are making timely 100 percent repayments.
  • Having seen the impact made by HFH Nepal, other neighboring families are following the methodology of Save and Build in Stages as a means to improve their housing conditions. Through the established literacy groups and the cooperatives, they have promised to meet half of the cost for each house that HFH Nepal would build for every member. Most of the families will opt to improve their housing conditions with the raw materials they have and purchase the rest of the needed materials through their savings, while the Habitat loan will mainly be used for transportation and skilled labor. So the initial loan from HFH Nepal will be US$250 per family which will be paid back within 30 months.
  • After the completion of the above mentioned houses, HFH Nepal will be able to assist another 100 families with the revolving fund alone. We will start the second phase with the revolving fund as we have already identified the 100 families among village savings-led women’s groups.
  • ADRA, being a leading organization in disaster response in Nepal, has requested assistance from HFH Nepal in post-disaster response by providing technical assistance to the flood victims as well as to free bonded labor. With the technical advice and assistance from HFH Nepal, ADRA has already housed 72 members, with another 230 to be assisted within the next two months.
  • Having seen this impact Caritas International has requested the same type of assistance to provide help to another 1,400 families who have been affected by floods.

Aruna Paul Simittrarachchi has been with Habitat for Humanity for 11 years. Prior to this, he worked with the UNDP-UNV volunteers and at the Institute of Integral Education in Sri Lanka. He has much experience in savings-led microfinance.

Aruna may be contacted at aruna@gmail.com.