Habitat for Humanity Fiji
Habitat's work in Fiji
Fiji News and Stories
Habitat for Humanity started working in Fiji in 1991. Since then, Habitat has helped over 4,900 families to build homes and hope through partnerships with governments, bilateral and non-profit organizations and international volunteers. Habitat’s work goes beyond the construction of homes. HFH Fiji works on a range of projects throughout the country including disaster prevention and recovery, water and sanitation, and disabled access housing projects.
Housing needs in Fiji
An estimated 140,000 people currently live in substandard housing conditions, and the number is on the rise. Fiji is expected to need a total of more than 30,000 houses over the next 15 years. Poverty and inequality continue to be a challenge. According to official statistics, 31 percent of the population lives in poverty though the local social services council has put the figure at 60 percent or half a million people. The rising cost of living and the advent of category four Cyclone Tomas in March 2010 increased the poor’s vulnerability, said Fiji’s Council of Social Services. The poorest households also lack piped water, adequate sanitation, electricity or rubbish disposal.
How Habitat addresses need in Fiji
Habitat for Humanity’s activities in Fiji range from new house construction to helping families rebuild after cyclones and other disasters to improving water and sanitation access in various communities. Habitat homes are typically built with a combination of locally supplied timber, concrete, and metal roofing. Low-income families contribute their own labor to build their new homes and make monthly repayments for the cost of their houses.
Community water projects
Habitat for Humanity Fiji helps remote communities to gain access to clean water supply with funding support from various bilateral donors such as the Japanese Embassy and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT). Since 2011, the Japanese government has donated more than 500,000 Fijian dollars (about US$242,000) to HFH Fiji for water, sanitation and hygiene projects. The European Union has also donated more than 1 million Fijian dollars toward Habitat’s water projects.
Decent homes for vulnerable groups
Funding support from the European Union enabled HFH Fiji to help a total of 157 families build or repair or improve their houses, with 27 water systems delivered to the local communities. Sugar Build, a special event organized from 4-6 August 2014, launched the final year of this three-year project in Bulileka, Labasa on Vanua Levu island.
Families affected by March 2010’s Cyclone Tomas received new homes built by HFH Fiji with funding support from the New Zealand Aid Programme, Fiji’s government and other donors. Habitat also repaired four schools with funding support from UNICEF. Families hit by 2012’s Cyclone Evan received transitional shelters funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme.
Engaging with volunteers
HFH Fiji hosts six to eight Global Village teams each year with volunteer builders coming from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and USA. HFH Fiji kick started the Habitat Youth BUILD 2015 campaign with a special build at a local park. About 130 volunteers, mostly from local youth groups, worked from 16 to 18 December to build two transitional houses that would be donated to low-income families.
Meet a Habitat family
The Dakunituraga family fell on tough times after a family member’s death. They were homeless. For eight months they lived in a makeshift hut with earthen floor and tarpaulin sheets for its walls. The tin roof leaked and the family was plagued by mosquitoes.
Although she was eight-month-pregnant, Mereia could not sleep in peace for fear of insects attacking her two young children. Her husband Tevita supports the family through fishing, farming and odd jobs.
The couple became Habitat home partners after they received a transitional house built by volunteers during the Habitat Youth BUILD campaign in Suva in December 2014. Mereia is happy as she now has space to store food while her children, who used to suffer from insect bites and boils, are content to stay at home the whole day.
Population: more than 903,200 (July 2014 est.)
Urbanization: 52.2 percent lives
Life expectancy : 72 years (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate: 7.6 percent (1999)
Population living below poverty line: 31 percent (2009 est.)
Access to improved water sources: 96.3 percent (2012 est.)
Access to improved sanitation facilities 87.2 percent (2012 est.)
Source: World Factbook