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Habitat for Humanity Malaysia

Contact information

HFH Malaysia
Unit 6.02, 6th floor, Wisma Paradise No. 63, Jalan
50450 Kuala Lumpur

Country Profile

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.


• September 2011: HFH Malaysia received a US$20,000 grant from Citi Foundation to teach the basics of personal finance, such as savings and budgeting, to low-income families who are seeking to improve their housing conditions. September 2011: American actor Jason Scott Lee built with HFH Malaysia’s Sabah affiliate when he was in Kota Kinabalu to film a documentary. Together with the film crew, he helped to install windows and paint the walls of a Habitat house, among other works.

• March 2011: A 13-member team from Japan’s Aoyama Gakuin University became the first Global Village team to build in Peninsular Malaysia. They built with a family in Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan.

• February 2011: The Kota Kinabalu affiliate launched Borneo Build with the participation of a team of 23 volunteers from Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan.

• October 2010: HFH Malaysia celebrated World Habitat Day with an eight-house build in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. Habitat’s partners included Cargill and Credit Suisse as well as government and non-governmental organizations.

• August 2010: Habitat’s Kuching affiliate completed the upgrading of a 32-unit longhouse in Lubuk Antu, Sarawak in partnership with local NGO Yayasan Kebajikan Negara and the Ministry of Social Welfare. The project was an effort to improve traditional housing of indigenous communities in East Malaysia.

• September 2010: FedEx continued its partnership with HFH Malaysia to build and repair 10 homes for indigenous families living in Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan. FedEx donated US$15,000 toward the project and sent volunteers to build with HFH Malaysia.

• March 2010: Bosch donated power tools and construction equipment to HFH Malaysia and its staff participated in a oneday house build. Companies providing gifts-in-kind include Cahaya Mata Sarawak, United GI Products, Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad, Bluescope Lysaght, MML Marketing, Malaysian Mosaics Berhad and CMS.

• Since 2001, the Kuching affiliate has hosted over 70 volunteer teams from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, China, Korea and Australia. The Kota Kinabalu affiliate has hosted overseas teams from France, Korea and the United States.


Population: 29,179,952 (July 2012 est.)

Capital: Kuala Lumpur

Land Area: 329,847 sq. km.

Ethnic Groups: Malay 50.4%, Chinese 23.7%, indigenous 11%,

Indian 7.1%, others 7.8% (2004 est.)

Languages: Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese

(Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow),

Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai

Religions: Muslim (or Islam - official) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%,

Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other

traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%,

none 0.8% (2000 census)

Literacy: 88.7% (2000 census)

Urbanization: 72% of total population (2010)

Population Living on US$1.25 a Day: 1% (2005)

Access to Improved Water Sources: 100% (2010)

Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 96% (2010)

Sources: World Factbook, World Bank