Botswana -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
This basic mud and thatch house is a typical example of the conditions endured by much of Botswana’s population.
A homeowner in front of her new Habitat house.
Botswana is one of Africa’s most politically stable countries and its diamond reserves have made a huge impact on the country’s income. However, half of the population still struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. One of the most vulnerable groups is women; one third of all families are now female-headed households and 60% of women live in extreme poverty.
The rampant spread of HIV/AIDS has added to the country’s burdens. The Botswana AIDS Impact Survey II (BIAS II) conducted in 2004, estimated HIV prevalence in the general population at 17.1%. HIV prevalence among pregnant women between the ages 15-45 was estimated at 32.4%. The loss of lives through HIV in turn leads to an increase in the number of child headed families that is often left without proper financial means to support themselves or be able to maintain existing houses.
With so many people living in poverty, substandard housing is an overwhelming challenge. Most families live in traditional homes made of mud walls and thatch roofs, or inadequately constructed brick houses. Overcrowding exist in the majority of these houses, and a lack of natural light and ventilation are common problems, causing illness and other socially orientated problems.
Habitat for Humanity Botswana (HFHB)
Habitat for Humanity Botswana (HFHB) began in 1991, at the invitation of the former President, Sir Ketumile J. Masire. The first affiliates (local offices) were in Ghanzi, Francistown, Kanye, and Kasane. HFHB is now working in 17 communities.
HFHB houses measure approximately 20-34 sq. meters and consist of one to two and half rooms, made of cement blocks, concrete floors with corrugated iron roofs. All the houses have external pit latrines, which considerably improve health.
Highlights to date include:
• August 2000: First flood relief houses built in Kumakwane village;
• May 2001: Completed 11 houses in partnership with Botswana Council for Refugees and UNHCR for the Dukwi Refugee Project, and
• August 2001: World Leaders Build and dedication of HFHB’s 700th house
• May 2006: Completed 10 houses in partnership with Debswana Corporation. At the house dedication, the honorable former President of Botswana, Sir. Ketumile J. Masire attended
• Year 2007: Establishment of the HFHB-Debswana (Jwaneng mine) Housing Project Partnership
Real Life Story
Mr. Selotlego Rebaeng, a night watchman, couldn’t believe his luck when he was selected Homeowner to host the House Dedication. former President, Sir Ketumile J. Masire, and 200 other guests would be in his yard!
Before Mr. Rebaeng applied for an HFH house in Letlhakane, his home consisted of three round mud structures with thatch roofs. They were very old and likely to collapse as soon as the next rainy season began. Back then he could never have imagined that such a day would come, when he would be wearing his suit under the media spotlight. The community had even raised money to purchase a cow as sacrifice in thanksgiving for the special event.
Mr. Rebaeng beamed as he expressed his sentiments about his new home, decked in colorful balloons for the event: “All those years when I was a young man I didn’t have the chance to own a house and now, at my age, Habitat for Humanity has made my dream come true”.
The former President added his own thoughts: “To me these awards are not only about the remarkable achievements of the recipients…they are the embodiment of leadership by example and the spirit of self-reliance, on which the successes and achievements of this country are anchored.”
Location: Southern Africa, north of South Africa
Climate: Semi Arid; warm winters and hot summers
Population: 1.8 million
Economy: Main exports are diamonds, copper, nickel, beef
Government: Parliamentary republic
Religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Languages: English, Setswana