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Habitat for Humanity Nepal

Contact information

HFH Nepal
GPO Box 24037 973/5 Dhumbarahi Marg Ward #4,

Country Profile



Habitat for Humanity first began working in Nepal in 1997. In the eight years to 2005, Habitat helped 830 families to build decent housing. HFH Nepal then made a strategic decision to increase its impact and reach more and poorer communities. The result was a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly housing program delivered through partnerships with non-government organizations, microfinance institutions and village lending and savings groups. In June 2011, HFH Nepal celebrated the 10,000th family it had served.

Housing needs in Nepal

Nepal has made good progress in reducing poverty. Between 2005 and 2009, the landlocked nation reduced poverty by six percentage points to 25.4 percent. Rural dwellers are predominantly poor with a large gap between those living in the mid-western region and others in the central region and the capital Kathmandu. For example, 3 percent of the population in Kathmandu is classed as poor but the figure rises to 59 percent in Rolpa district in mid-western region, according to United Nations data. Disparities between genders, between castes and between ethnic groups are high and persistent, according to a 2010 Nepal Millennium Development Report issued by the government and UN. Political instability, high food price inflation and drought, flooding and other natural disasters add to the burden on the poor.

Nepal is experiencing a rapid expansion of urban areas and high rates of rural-urban migration. City dwellers find it hard to afford housing because of spiraling land prices, according to a 2010 UN-HABITAT report. The Nepal Housing Profile Study, published jointly with the Ministry of Planning and Physical Works in Nepal, shows that urban land prices have tripled since 2003, making housing increasingly unaffordable for many. About 10 percent of urban dwellers are squatters and the number is set to rise, according to the UN report. An August 2010 report in a local newspaper suggested that there are 16,953 squatters in Kathmandu Valley, living mainly along the river banks of Bagmati, Bishnumati and Manohara.

How Habitat for Humanity works in Nepal

HFH Nepal provides a decent home with access to water and sanitation facilities. Typically, a Habitat house measures about 31 sq. m. in area. It is made with bamboo wall panels on a timber frame finished with cement plaster. Sun-dried bricks are also used. Galvanized iron sheets are used for roofing which Habitat eventually plans to replace with corrugated bamboo roofing sheets. Habitat favors the use of the low-cost and environmentally sustainable bamboo which is especially popular in the east where Habitat has set up a bamboo processing enterprise which produces corrugated bamboo roofing sheets or presses woven bamboo mats into panels for walls. Women from the local community earn income by weaving bamboo into mats for the enterprise. In other areas, Habitat commonly uses cement blocks or bricks and mud.

Each home partner family contributes sweat equity, or their own labor, to build their own house as well as those of others. Families also provide raw materials such as timber, bamboo or mud from their own land to reduce the loan they have to repay. The mortgage loan repayment period is about 30 months and repayment averages US$7 per month.

Habitat rebuilds homes following disasters such as the Koshi flooding in August 2008 and trains families to protect their lives and property against future calamities. To ensure timely and effective response, HFH Nepal has built up a network of suppliers which are ready to provide 1,000 prefabricated bamboo emergency shelters and transitional shelters.

“100,000 Housing Campaign”

In July 2011, Habitat launched the “100,000 Housing Campaign” to mobilize partners, people and resources to tap locally available construction techniques and materials to help overcome the country’s chronic housing shortage. As part of this ambitious campaign, HFH Nepal is encouraging other non-governmental organizations and community-based groups to work with Habitat to add housing-related components to the services and activities they offer.

International volunteers

Home to the world’s tallest peak, Nepal is a popular destination with international volunteers. For the year ended 30th June 2011, Habitat hosted 26 teams or more than 400 volunteers. They came from Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the U.S. HFH Nepal is aiming to host 50 volunteer teams per year with over 35 teams lined up for 2012. Habitat will also hold “Everest Build II” in Kavre district in October 2012. International volunteers will work with home partner families to build 40 homes using environmentally-friendly, locally grown bamboo, and sun-dried soil blocks.


Habitat receives funding support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency through HFH Korea and Canadian International Development Agency through HFH Canada. Habitat programs in Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand are also lending their support.

Meet a Habitat family

Goma Thatal has been living in Jhapa since she got married in 2002. After her husband passed away two years ago, she struggled to raise her two young daughters on her own. She used to live in a small thatched hut that was built on government land. Although she worked hard, she had very little savings from her tea shop business.  Through a staff member of Nari Chetana, Habitat for Humanity Nepal’s partner organization, 
Goma came to know about Habitat’s low-cost housing program. She became a member of Nari Chetana and obtained a loan of 25,000 Nepali rupees (about US$300) without collateral. The loan was to be repaid in three years. Since Thatal did not have a land title, she could not build a new house.

On her behalf, Nari Chetana appealed to the local authorities and HFH Nepal for assistance. A Global Village volunteer team from New Zealand worked with Thatal to build her two-room house.

Thatal and her daughters moved into their Habitat house in October 2013. Thatal feels safe and secure in her current house. With pride, she said: “I am no longer an unfortunate widow but a wise and courageous woman in the eyes of the society.”

Country Facts

Capital: Kathmandu

Population: 31 million (July 2014 est.)

Urbanization: 17 percent live in cities (2011)

Life expectancy: 67 years

Unemployment rate: 46 percent (2008)

Population living below poverty line: 25.2 percent (2011 est.)
Access to improved water sources: 88.1 percent (2012 est.)
Access to improved sanitation facilities: 36.7 percent (2012 est.)

Sources: World Factbook