Habitat for Humanity Guatemala
Habitat's work in Guatemala
Housing need in Guatemala
The housing deficit in Guatemala is estimated at approximately 1.2 million homes. Many of these families live in poorly constructed houses made of unstable materials, such as adobe, corrugated metal sheets, wood planks or palm thatching. Others, who lack even this basic structure, pay more than half of their monthly income on rent or crowd into homes where several families occupy the same small house or room.
One of the most significant challenges to housing in Guatemala is access to land. Many low-income families have no legal proof that they own the land they inhabit; in other words, despite having viably purchased or inherited their land, they lack legal tenure. In other cases, informal settlements inhabit property belonging to the state or private enterprise, where families face the daily risk of forced eviction. These properties rarely have basic utilities and are often located in vulnerable areas, such as ravines and river banks.
Even when a family has moderate income or has managed to save a small amount of money, obtaining a loan to purchase land or buy a home in Guatemala is often still challenging. Many Guatemalan families attest that, without Habitat for Humanity, they would not have been able to build or improve their home.
Habitat for Humanity in Guatemala
Established in 1979 with the purpose of improving the lives of low-income families in Guatemala through the construction of adequate, affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity Guatemala was the first Habitat organization in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Since the construction of its first home in Aguacatán, Huehuetenango over 30 years ago, Habitat Guatemala has served more than 50,000 families and has extended its work to each of the country’s 22 states.
Habitat for Humanity does much more than just build houses. Working towards a world in which every person has access to adequate housing, Habitat organizations raise awareness about the cause for adequate housing, advocate to improve housing policy, and more.
Small Change, Giant Leap: The Small Change, Giant Leap program has the ambitious goal of providing a total of 17,000 smokeless stoves to needy Guatemalan families by 2015. This project will improve the living conditions of families in extreme poverty by providing smokeless stoves at a subsidized cost. By drastically reducing smoke levels in the home, pulmonary disease and burning accidents are avoided and families experience firewood savings.
Disaster Response to the earthquake of November 2012: On the morning of the 7th of November 2012, an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 on the Richter scale hit the southwest coast of Guatemala, taking the lives of 52 people and leaving more than 150 people injured. In the department of San Marcos alone, 1,019 families lost their homes, and 1,193 homes have been severely damaged.
Habitat Guatemala has been present in the affected areas from the start, assessing the damage and making plans to respond and rebuild. Our plan is to build 50 new progressive homes and repair 150 damaged homes in San Marcos, at no cost to families. Our aim is to get affected families back on their feet; out of temporary shelters and into a permanent home. We aim to achieve this goal by July 2013, and with your help, we think we can do it.
The Clean Water Project: This project aims to improve the water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions of hundreds of families annually living in extreme poverty by offering subsidized installations of latrines and water filters. These products provide families with scarce financial resources the opportunity to invest in their future health and wellbeing, and that of their children. The latrines and filters are delivered in coordination with local leaders and offered at the community-wide level in order to yield optimal results. In addition, participating families attend trainings on the topics of latrine and filter construction, use and maintenance; disaster response; financial responsibility; and preventative health.
Financial Education: This project is aimed at educating and accompanying partner families in the planning and administration of their home economy. The manuals and methodology used are the result of a project designed by Habitat for Humanity International and financed by Citi Foundation. Through a series of workshops, families learn to administer their income and expenses, and learn to design a budget, analyze and control their expenses, and follow a savings plan. Families are also informed about the risks and advantages of taking out loans with Habitat for Humanity or other organizations.
Learn more about Habitat for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean.