Cameroon -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
The housing need in Cameroon is vast. People use whatever materials they can find to build shelter.
Djibril, an HFHC homeowner in Ntumbaw stands proudly in front of his new home.
The situation of poverty housing is visible and alarming in Cameroon. Despite the political and social stability and numerous natural resources that are abound in the country, Cameroonians in their majority live in bad housing conditions. The statistics show that 67% of the population are living in suburbs and their housing conditions are far to be improved because these quarters are qualified as informal settlements. These informal settlements experience 5.5% growth annually as the phenomena of rural exodus is high in Cameroon due to lack of employment opportunities in small towns and villages. Therefore the population expansion in big cities such as Yaounde, Douala and Bafoussam causes serious housing problem.
Poverty housing is also a problem in rural areas, where most homes are built with mud or wattle and daub with thatch roofs which require constant maintenance. Basic amenities such as clean drinking water, electricity and basic sanitary infrastructure are also scarce or unaffordable and unreliable for most of the people living in poor communities. These difficult living conditions lead to frequent illnesses and make raising children extremely challenging.
Habitat for Humanity Cameroon
Habitat for Humanity Cameroon (HFHC) was established in the capital city of Yaoundé in 2000, to enable people living in these poor conditions to access decent shelter. The program is working through nine affiliates in the Northwest and Central Provinces and continues to grow, with many new projects being considered.
HFHC houses in its rural affiliates are 36 to 48 square meters in size and consist of two bedrooms, a hall and an outdoor latrine and bathing area. Houses are built using appropriate technology, namely stone foundations with pressed, sun dried earth ‘laterite’ bricks, bonded and plastered with earth and cement mortar. The peak construction period in these affiliates is the dry season (December to June).
Habitat for Humanity Cameroon’s urban houses measure 60 square meters and consist of one bedroom, and an indoor toilet. Houses are built with cement blocks, which are quick and easy to use, allowing homes to be built throughout the year in Yaoundé.
Construction of houses usually takes between four to five weeks to completion. Houses are payable over a period of five to ten years. On completion of repayment, homeowners can easily expand their homes to comprise three bedrooms and a hall through the application of a second loan.
HFHC’s housing projects to date include:
• Partnering with a leprosy patients and psychiatric patient caregivers;
• Partnering with MUPROF-Gic;
• Partnering with CISCO International;
• Partnering with CITI Group International;
• An urban partnership initiative in Yaoundé, and
• House rehabilitations projects.
Real Life Story
Denis Nkoh lives in the village of Mughu, in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. Denis is a leprosy patient at the Mbingo Baptist Hospital. Leprosy has left him with difficulty walking, but the village is close to the hospital where he goes for treatment. Denis used to live in a rented house, but he says it was “too small and not very clean. There is no toilet, so we had to go in the bush.”
Denis raised his six children, aged 7 months to 17 years, in the village. “My children go to school here and this is home for us now, “says Nkoh, who earns whatever income he can by taking pictures.
Thanks to help from HFHC, other HFHC homeowners and his own family, Denis now owns his own home, consisting of three bedrooms, a hall, a living room, an outdoor kitchen and a toilet. The house is a dream come true for Denis and he hopes to use the money he will save on monthly rental to make it even better. “It is the first time I have ever owned a house and I am very happy”, he said.
Mughu is home to many of the leprosy patients treated by the Mbingo Baptist Hospital. HFHC has been working in the area since 2002, and Denis is one of a number of patients who was able to build his own home through the assistance of the program.
Location: western Africa
Climate: tropical along the coast; semiarid and hot in the north
Economy: oil, agriculture
Government: unitary republic
Religion: 40 percent Christian, 20 percent Muslim, 40 percent indigenous
Literacy: 63 percent
Language: English, French; 24 major African languages