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Habitat for Humanity receives World Bank Grant for Innovation

WASHINGTON (May 10, 2006) – Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan is one of 30 winners of the prestigious World Bank Development Marketplace competition, a competitive grant program that funds innovative, small-scale development projects that deliver results and show potential to be expanded or replicated. This year’s marketplace awarded US$4 million for the best ideas for providing clean water, sanitation and energy services for the poor in developing countries.

The winning Habitat for Humanity entry from Kyrgyzstan, titled “19th Century Idea, 21st Century Solution,” combines a traditional but forgotten construction method of cane reed and clay with a technological innovation to create an affordable under-floor heating system. In addition, Habitat for Humanity Armenia was among 118 grant finalists for its project “Harnessing the Sun: Energy for the Armenian Poor,” chosen from 2,500 applicants from 55 countries worldwide.

“To place in this prestigious competition is quite an achievement for these local initiatives, and for Kyrgyzstan to win is fantastic,” said Don Haszczyn, area vice president for Habitat for Humanity’s Europe and Central Asia regional office.
“The Armenian and Kyrgyz leadership and innovation of these sustainable, innovative projects can only enhance our mission to provide simple, decent, affordable homes in partnership with families in need.”

Seventy percent of the population in Kyrgyzstan lives in substandard conditions due to a combination of prohibitively high prices, increasing urban migration and the traditionally limited housing stock. Those houses that are affordable for low-income families often lack heat, water and other basic services, thereby forcing inhabitants to improvise with unsafe, unhealthy makeshift furnaces. In the rare cases where heat is available, the resultant environmental degradation is significant and the costs are prohibitive, often costing as much as 50 percent of a low-income family’s wage.

The cane reed project keeps house costs down by 40 percent and serves as better insulators against harsh Kyrgyz winters, saving families up to US$60 per month in energy costs, equivalent to 490 loaves of bread. Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan will receive $116,000 to further develop the project.

Habitat for Humanity Kyrgyzstan has dedicated more than 130 homes in partnership with families in need since it was established in 1999. Habitat for Humanity Armenia has housed more than 1,000 people in need since 2000.

Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than one million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.