Families served in 2016: 1449
- Population: More than 31.5 million (July 2015 est.)
- Urbanization: 18.6 percent lives in cities (2015)
- Life expectancy: 67.5 years (2015 est.)
- Unemployment rate: 46 percent (2008 est.)
- Population living below poverty line: 25.2 percent (2011 est.)
- Access to improved water sources: 91.6 percent (2015 est.)
- Access to improved sanitation facilities: 45.8 percent (2015 est.)
Sources: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in Nepal
In 1997, Habitat for Humanity started operating in Nepal by working directly with the local communities in five districts. By 2005, more than 800 families were served through decent housing. To increase its impact, Habitat Nepal began to leverage on partnerships with non-government organizations, microfinance institutions, and village lending and saving groups. In July 2011, the “Meaningful Life through Housing” campaign was launched to provide sustainable housing through a people-driven approach and cost-effective construction technology. Operations focused on building decent homes incrementally with rural families in eastern and western Nepal. More than 54,000 families have built strength, stability and self-reliance with HFH Nepal until the devastating earthquakes struck in April and May 2015.
The housing need in Nepal
At least 40,000 urban housing units in Nepal are required annually between 2011 and 2021, according to a study done by UN-Habitat at the request of the Nepali government. The 2010 study, “Nepal Urban Housing Sector Profile”, stated that soaring land prices and increasing rural-urban migration made it difficult for the poor to afford housing, especially in the fast-growing urban areas. About 10 percent of urban dwellers in Nepal are squatters and the number is set to rise. With more than half a million houses destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes, the need for decent housing has become even more pressing.
How Habitat addresses the need in Nepal
Support from HFH Australia and HFH Netherlands enables female- headed households to improve their living conditions and livelihood skills, and for local communities to learn about cultivating and using bamboo as a sustainable building material. Post-earthquake, the “Build Nepal” strategy will focus on areas such as social mobilization which empowers communities to join HFH Nepal’s work of rebuilding; technical assistance through which training is provided to improve construction skills for safer reconstruction; tiered assistance which enables vulnerable households to access non-financial support for income-generating activities so as to build their own capacity; and market development which aims to improve housing value through access to better construction materials and labor.
A year after the devastating earthquakes that struck on April 25 and May 12, 2015, HFH Nepal has helped affected families through rubble removal and 20,000 water backpacks for fetching and storing water. A total of 5,142 temporary shelter kits were distributed while another 2,424 winterization kits were given to keep survivors warm. A total of 16,244 damaged homes were assessed for safety and 632 people attended training in the Participatory Approach for Safe Shelter Awareness (PASSA). HFH Nepal is working in line with the Government of Nepal’s strategy to help families with rebuilding their homes and lives.
Empowering women through housing and livelihood training
Female-headed households in Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari and Siraha districts in the east are being trained in building houses with local materials, mainly bamboo, and others such as sun-dried bricks and mud. Through training, they can also improve their standard of living with new livelihood skills and their health through safe sanitation and hygienic practices. HFH Nepal’s work with female-headed households in cultivating and building with bamboo is recognized when Habitat received the first prize from the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFund) at the 18th Microcredit Summit in Abu Dhabi in March 2016.
Improving the lives of vulnerable communities
Former bonded laborers – known as ex-Kamaiyas – who live in Dang, Kailali and Kanchanpur districts, are able to build new homes or improve their houses. Other assistance includes the construction of wells and training in livelihood options and personal hygiene. HFH Nepal is also supporting local communities in Jhapa, Morang, Siraha, Ilam, Saptari and Dang districts in learning about the usefulness of bamboo and its cultivation.
Nepal is among the favorite destinations of Global Village volunteer teams, though the 2015 earthquakes mean fewer volunteer opportunities are available. In the past year, more than 820 international volunteers have worked with families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
Meet a Habitat family
Sumita Gautam, a 40-year-old single mother, and her two children Sushila, 22 and Dipesh, 13 can now look forward to a decent place to live. About four months after the earthquake struck on April 25, 2015, she received a temporary shelter kit distributed by Habitat for Humanity Nepal. She used the zinc sheets and other materials from the kit to build a temporary shelter in Chapagaun, Lalitpur district.
After living in the shelter for six months, she could use the money saved from her full-time job as a cleaner to start building the foundation of a new house for her family. “I thank Habitat for giving me a roof over my head when my family was down and out and living under a tarpaulin sheet. Now I am ready to face the future, with my new house,” said Sumita.