Habitat for Humanity Malaysia
Habitat's work in Malaysia
Malaysia News and Stories
Habitat for Humanity was established in the eastern part of Malaysia in 1998, in the state of Sarawak on Borneo island.
Habitat built its first house in 1999 in Kuching, capital of Sarawak. Resource centers, which extend the reach of Habitat programs, were established in Kuching and later in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah, another Malaysian state on Borneo island. Habitat for Humanity Malaysia operates a national office-cum-resource center in the country’s capital Kuala Lumpur in western Malaysia. Habitat focuses on providing housing assistance to underprivileged groups and families. These groups include the orang asli or indigenous people, and communities from different ethnic groups.
Housing needs in Malaysia
Over recent decades, Malaysia has become steadily more prosperous. Up to the early 1970s, nearly half of the country’s population was living below the national poverty line. Rapid economic growth and structural changes helped Malaysia to come close to ending extreme poverty. Based on official figures, the proportion of people living on less than US$1 a day fell to below 4 percent in 2009 from 17 percent in 1990. The government has set a target of reducing the overall poverty rate to 2 percent by 2015. Currently relatively large numbers of poor families are to be found in rural Sabah and Sarawak, in East Malaysia, as well as in villages in Terengganu, Kelantan and Kedah in Peninsular Malaysia.
Rapid urbanization and migration from the countryside means poverty is now also to be found in towns and cities. Families face challenges such as finding adequate employment opportunities, and access to affordable transportation, healthcare and housing.
According to a 2004 study by a local university academic, Malaysia is committed to providing shelter for all, in line with its vision of becoming a developed nation by 2020. A government program of funding home improvements is designed to assist those living in the countryside. For the urban poor, the government operates an integrated program to resettle tens of thousands of informal settlers in low-cost apartments.
How Habitat for Humanity works
HFH Malaysia mostly works in semi-urban and rural areas, repairing homes, making extensions to existing houses and building new houses which can be extended at a later date when families have sufficient funds.
Habitat’s skilled workers and volunteers work with families in preparing the foundation, piling, laying bricks and putting up the roof on wooden trusses.The average house size ranges from 40 sq. m. up to nearly 60 sq. m. Habitat home partners typically repay over several years at an average of 80 to 400 ringgit (US$27 to US$133) per month.
HFH Malaysia has a growing, active and multi-faceted volunteer program. Student, youth and corporate groups build with Habitat within the country. Garden International School, International School of Kuala Lumpur, Mont Kiara International School are among international schools supporting Habitat’s work within Malaysia and overseas. HFH Malaysia has hosted volunteer teams from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, France, Dubai, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States. The U.S. sailors from the U.S. Navy made their presence felt on Habitat builds in Sabah.
HFH Malaysia works with governmental partners including the federal ministries of housing and local government, and of social welfare as well as local authorities. Private and public sectors are being encouraged to work together in addressing housing problems among underprivileged groups, such as plantation employees, widows and single mothers, the elderly and the disabled. HFH Malaysia has strong support from a range of corporations. These include Dow Chemical, Hong Leong Bank, FedEx, Pfizer, Credit Suisse, OCBC, Bosch, Cargill Holdings Sdn Bhd, Cargill Palm Products, Sunway City, Murphy Oil, Cahaya Mata Sarawak, and Magna Prima. HFH Malaysia is working on a financial education project funded with a grant from Citi Foundation, the philanthropy arm of New York-headquartered Citi financial services group.
Meet a Habitat family
For 30 years, Killiamma had to bear with the annual monsoon rains that brought misery. Home for she and her daughter Kanaga was a thatched hut in Palanthandalam village, Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu state. When it rained heavily, Killiamma had hardly any dry corner to sleep in and her scarce possessions would be damaged. She had to seek refuge in a neighbor’s house.
Killiamma stopped work as a seasonal laborer when age caught up with her. Her daughter Kanaga works as a farm hand but they could not afford to repair the house. The best they could do is to put up a tarpaulin sheet, donated by a local non-governmental organization, over the thatched roof but that did not stop the hut from becoming flooded.
With the help of Habitat for Humanity India, Killiamma and her daughter now have a more spacious house with a proper sanitation facility. The new roof not only prevents rain water from coming in but also reduces the temperature inside the house.
“I am very thankful to all who helped me to have a better and safe place to live,” said Killiamma.
Capital: Kuala Lumpur
Population: 30.1 million (July 2014 est.)
Urbanization: 72.8 percent (2011)
Life expectancy: 75 years (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent (2013 est.)
Population living below poverty line: 3.8 percent (2009 est.)
Access to Improved Water Sources: 99.6 percent (2012 est.)
Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 95.7 percent (2012 est.)
Source: World Factbook