Habitat for Humanity China
Habitat's work in China
Habitat for Humanity China was established in 2000. It began operations in mainland China in 2002 in Yunnan, one of China’s poorest provinces. In 2004, offices were opened in neighboring Guangxi and Guangdong provinces. In January 2006, Habitat merged its operations in Hong Kong and China into a single entity. The move leverages on the resources and business acumen of Asia’s premier international city to promote Habitat’s mission. Hong Kong concentrates on raising funds and recruiting teams of volunteers. After the devastating May 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, Habitat opened an office in the provincial capital Chengdu to coordinate its rebuilding work and later to oversee Habitat activities across southwestern China. The China-leg of the November 2009 Carter Work Project was held in a periurban setting in Qionglai city, Sichuan. Former US president Jimmy Carter visited volunteers working on apartments as part of an urban initiative by the city government to provide low-cost rental housing units to families in need. In 2009, Habitat opened an office in Shanghai, the country’s commercial and financial capital, to support projects in the Yangzi delta and other work in China.
Housing needs in China
China has an impressive record in reducing poverty. The world’s most populous country lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty between 1981 and 2004. China’s Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to basically eradicate poverty by 2020 and to raise the current national poverty line of 1,196 yuan (nearly US$190) per year. Rapid growth and urbanization and economic reforms have been central to China’s poverty reduction in the past 25 years. However, inequality has increased and poverty has become concentrated in rural and minority areas, according to the World Bank. Many of the poor lack access to affordable housing, shut out by soaring land and house prices, and the inadequate supply of low-cost accommodation. The central government announced in September 2011 that it will build 10 million government-subsidized affordable housing units in 2011 and 36 million units over the next five years. Still, much remains to be done.
How Habitat for Humanity works
Habitat for Humanity recognizes the great need to build, harness resources and advocate for decent, affordable housing in China. Most Habitat projects are in rural areas where homes are often made of unsafe structures. Residents commonly rely on communal wells for water. Decent sanitation facilities are not widely available. A typical Habitat home measures about 70 to 80 sq. m. in size, and is constructed with red bricks, stone, compressed earth blocks or wood supplemented with a tiled roof. A flat roof design is preferred as home partners can use the space both for drying grain and for collecting rainwater. Home partners also have the flexibility to build a second story if they have the financial means. The Shanghai office is responsible for raising awareness about inadequate housing, developing projects and creating partnerships in the Yangzi delta area including the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui.
In Hong Kong, the Habitat office plays a leading role in raising funds and awareness of Habitat’s work and response to natural disasters in China and other parts of the world. To provide a build experience within Hong Kong, and to help disadvantaged elderly residents, the office has an on-going restoration project in a local fishing village.
China is an increasingly popular destination for locally-based and overseas Habitat volunteer build teams. Habitat has hosted volunteer teams from 12 overseas countries including the American International School of Guangzhou, International School of Beijing and Shanghai American School as well as teams from South Korea and the United States.
HFH China works with local governments, civic organizations, corporations, churches, colleges and international schools to build homes and transform lives. Corporate partners include Delta, Dow, CBRE, QBE, Chun Wo Development Holdings, Citrix, Wells Fargo, Shui On Seagull Club, Li & Fung (1906) Foundation, Waggener Edstrom, Barclays
Capital, Citi, Flextronics, Cargill and RBS.
- December 2011: To date, nearly 1,200 volunteers have worked on Habitat’s stilt house restoration and community development project in fishing village of Tai O, Hong Kong. About 50 houses have been restored.
- November 2011: HFH China raised HK$50,000 (over US$6,400) from booths at the Lan Kwan Fong Carnival, annual street Mardi Gras in Hong Kong’s most famous entertainment area. HFH China has been named the sole charity partner for the Lan Kwai Fong Festival for the next three years.
- October 2011: In celebration of World Habitat Day, more than 360 volunteers worked on consecutive builds in five areas – Guangdong, Shanghai, Sichuan and Yunnan in China and in Hong Kong.
- August 2011: HFH China held its inaugural charity golf tournament in Hong Kong which attracted 80 players and volunteers. About HK$200,000 was raised.
- August 2011: ck Calvin Klein designed a special tee-shirt to be sold in its freestanding stores in Hong Kong in aid of HFH Japan’s earthquake response. Over HK$55,000 was raised.
- July 2011: Nearly 90 Korean student volunteers who were supported by Hyundai Motor Company built with Habitat in Cong hua, northeast of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.
- July 2011: More than 500 people took part in HFH China’s brick race held in Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. The event raised about HK$220,000
- June 2011: Habitat raised about US$6,700 at its “Brick-olage” Art Festival in Shanghai. More than 100 supporters created works of art with artists at River South Art Center in Shanghai.
- May 2011: Nearly 100 volunteers from Hong Kong helped to build homes in Qingchuan county, China’s Sichuan province. Popular singer Kay Tse joined the volunteers in marking the third anniversary of the May 2008 earthquake.
- November 2009: More than 170 volunteers, mostly from Hong Kong, participated in the China-leg of the 2009 Jimmy & Rosa -lynn Carter Work Project.. They worked on 16 units in three apartment blocks in Qionglai city, about 90 km., from Chengdu.
Population: 1,336,718,015 (July 2011 est.)
Area: 9,596,961 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Han Chinese 91.5%, Zhuang, Manchu, Hui, Miao, Uyghur, Tujia, Yi, Mongol, Tibetan, Buyi, Dong, Yao, Korean, and other nationalities 8.5% (2000 census)
Languages: Standard Chinese or Mandarin (Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages.
Religions: Daoist (Taoist), Buddhist, Christian 3%-4%, Muslim 1%-2%. Officially atheist. (est. 2002)
Literacy: 92.2% (2008 census)
Urbanization: 47% (2010)
Population Living on US$1.25 a Day: 16% (2005)
Access to Improved Water Sources: 89% (2009)
Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 55% (2009)
Sources: CIA World Factbook, World Bank