Angola -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
Although rich in oil, Angola is one of the world’s poorest countries. Three decades of brutal civil war maimed and killed thousands of people and decimated the country. Large areas remain inaccessible due to landmines and impassable roads. Many of the country’s residents are dependent on food aid.
A young HFH homeowner in Belchior outside her old dilapidated house.
One of 400 new homes built by Habitat for Humanity for returning refugees in war-torn Bié Province.
Since the end of the war in 2002, more than 4 million refugees and internally displaced people have slowly returned to Angola, after as long as 20 years away from their homes. The demand for housing is a high priority in the redevelopment process, as many refugees and displaced people have returned to nothing but empty fields; the un-maintained mud brick homes long gone.
The result of war has caused the destruction of homes and livelihoods, and although some people have been given resettlement kits, including tools, seeds and plastic sheeting, life continues to be a struggle, especially to those who lost limbs through land mine explosions.
A large percentage of the returning refugee population has returned to the central provinces of Bié and Huambo, where the conflict took its greatest toll. Without outside help, the returnees often live in makeshift shelters made of grass and mud, held up by fragile poles. The structures are cramped and dangerously precarious. Most do not have latrines or an adequate water supply. In the rainy season the families are constantly wet.
Habitat for Humanity Angola
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) began working in Angola in May 2004, through the First Shelter Initiative (FSI), under its Disaster Response program. The FSI was created to assist families who had recently moved back to their rural homes in Belchior, near Kuito, the capital of Bié Province. The FSI program was implemented in partnership with CARE International Angola, an organization with an established record of emergency relief and resettlement activities within the Province. While CARE provided food relief, agricultural support and land mine education, HFH focused on building houses. In the first 18 months, almost 400 families in five communities were housed by the program, which provided security for families and a sense of certainty that the war is past.
The FSI houses have two rooms and a latrine, with walls made of low-cost, locally available adobe blocks (hand pressed mud blocks with a high clay content, mixed with straw), and covered with zinc roofing sheets. The doors and windows are made of wood. Homeowner families are required to work with the community to obtain materials and to make the blocks and build the walls and latrine.
In addition to the emergency relief program, a micro-credit revolving fund project has been established in Huambo, in partnership with Development Workshop (DW). This project is enabling families classified as the “economically active poor” to construct permanent homes through the provision of housing loans. Many of the loan recipients are women who own market stalls or other income generating resources, but are struggling to raise the money to improve their living conditions, and who have already demonstrated an ability to repay micro-credit loans. The houses are built with cement block walls, concrete floors and a zinc roof. The fund aims to assist 230 families by the end of 2008.
Real Life Story
Deborah Cupeia moved into her new HFH home in September 2004, with four of her six remaining children. Three had died. It was raining the day they decided to move out of their grass hut. Water was pouring in, soaking the ground where they were trying tried to sleep. The house was caving in.. Deborah was certain that disease would soon attack, if not from the constant damp, then from the many mosquitoes.
Looking into her eyes one could see that Deborah could not fully express the gratitude she felt now that she could sleep peacefully, protected from the blowing wind and rain outside. “I am very happy with this house. I helped to build it by carrying the water and mud. My brother [another HFH homeowner] put up the wall. My old house was falling down in the rains while I was living there and I was lucky enough to move here, otherwise it would have been a disaster. This house came at the right time.”
Location: West Coast of Southern Africa, between Namibia and Democratic Republic of the Congo
Climate: Semi-arid in the South, tropical in the North
Population: 14.5 million
Economy: Main exports are oil, diamonds, minerals, coffee, fish and timber
Government: Republic under multiparty democratic rule led by the President
Religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Languages: Portuguese (official), Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo
Vasco Panzo: Panzo@care.ebonet.net
Carl Queiros firstname.lastname@example.org