Ecuador -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Housing need in Guayaquil area much of which is made from bamboo. Bamboo houses here are supplied by very low cost by the NGO (non-profit organization) Hogar de Christo. They are designed to be temporary shelters, but often become permanent, decaying houses.
Volunteers Joanna Helmkamp of Chicago, Illinois (left), and Patricia Luzulianga (on ladder), the future homeowner's sister, work on house walls, filling in concrete and painting. From March 20 to 27, 2004, Habitat for Humanity Ecuador hosted its first Women Build event entitled Women Building Hope, a blitz build of four concrete block houses for four families in Guayaquil. Two all-women Global Village teams, one with the first native Latin America/Caribbean team leader, plus volunteers from Costa Rica, Bolivia and Ecuador came together to build with future homeowners and construction leaders.
Houses are usually built of cement blocks, iron and cement; in some areas, bricks are used. These materials are lasting and safe. The average building time is two months.
HFH Ecuador has designed houses trying to meet a family’s basic needs, keeping in mind the number of family members. Habitat partner families choose the model that may be most convenient for them.
The country’s housing deficit is 18.2 percent. Countrywide, those families with their own home constitute only 67.2 percent, according to the Statistics Institute and the 2001 census in Ecuador.
Impoverished families’ problems in accessing housing has to do with the limitations of a their own poor economic state, which prevent them from finding an appropriate offer to their reality and needs.
Other obstacles include Ecuador’s geography and the difficultly and cost to develop systems for urban services, a responsibility of local and national governments.
The Ecuadorian government has not fully approached the housing problem for the poor, and when it does, its approach is a traditional one, resulting in a limited impact.
Nationally, 18 percent of the population lives in physically inadequate houses, out of a total population of 12 million inhabitants.
The lack of employment sources creates other obstacles. The average unemployment rate is 8.5 percent: 5.4 percent of which are men and 12.8 percent, women. This clearly shows the disadvantageous condition of women, their unemployment rate being double that of men.
A family’s economy is precarious due to the unemployment or underemployment of one or both family heads. The instability or lack of income precludes people from accessing the formal credit systems. It keeps them from being considered candidates for credit and from the possibility of acquiring a house or a plot of land.
Unemployment indicators would be much higher if they included the number of Ecuadorians who emigrate each day, many illegally, risking their lives for the chance of finding a job to support their families.
Also, the migration of indigenous, rural populations to cities generates a worsening and deterioration of existing social problems.
All this happens as the country’s economy fails to attract foreign investments, the laws do not provide adequate guarantees, inflation is not controlled and politics are characterized by a constant power struggle.
Health problems are aggravated by overcrowded homes, sub-human conditions in extreme poverty situations, and lack of sanitation. Since access to jobs and decent housing is limited, people build their homes on city fringes, with unhealthy surroundings and without basic services. Roofs and walls are made of tin, zinc, cardboard, plastic and any reusable material or waste material that can help provide shelter from weather conditions.
Poverty and extreme poverty can be determined by examining the degree in which basic living conditions are satisfied or not. Sixty-one percent of the national population lives below the poverty line, 46 percent in urban settings and 86 percent in rural areas. Thirty-two percent of the national population lives in extreme poverty, 18 percent urban and 54 percent rural.
Attention is required from public entities and organizations to provide drinking water, sewage systems, electricity, schools, communication services and healthcare, which are all currently lacking or deficient and result in health problems, malnutrition and the denial of people’s right to education.
Location: South America
Climate: Tropical along the coast; cooler inland
Economy: exports include petroleum, bananas, shrimp, cocoa, coffee
Religion: predominantly Christian
Literacy: 90 percent
Languages: Spanish, Indian languages (especially Quechua)