Ethiopia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
This shack made of scrap metal and wood in Addis Ababa, is typical of the housing need in Ethiopia.
Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia houses in Debre Berhan affiliate.
Ethiopia is probably best known for its regular bouts of drought and famine and conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Political turmoil and internal fighting have added to the lethal combination of factors that caused millions to starve to death during the 1970’s and ‘80’s.
Even now, Ethiopia is one of the ten poorest nations in the world. Over half of the population is illiterate. In spite of its arid climate, the economy relies heavily on agriculture and the country is one of Africa’s leading coffee producers. However, many Ethiopians still depend on food aid.
Almost 85% of the houses in Ethiopia are made of mud and stick or thatch walls, which collapse easily. Homes are often cramped, with dirt floors, leaking roofs and no windows or doors, leaving their occupants vulnerable to adverse weather conditions, insects and rodents. Poor ventilation for inside cooking fires is a common cause of respiratory problems. Moreover, a staggering 90% of the population has no access to decent sanitation facilities, and 73% of the population does not have safe drinking water, causing disease to run rampant.
Substandard housing not only has an adverse effect on health, but also on education, job performance and overall quality of life. Most families living in such conditions have little chance of improving their situations without assistance and life is a daily battle for most.
Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia (HFHE)
Habitat for Humanity Ethiopia (HFHE) began construction in 1993 and has since expanded to build houses in 11 communities. Most houses are in urban and semi-urban areas, within a 250 mile radius of the capital city, Addis Ababa. HFHE has attempted to integrate its operations with those of community-based organizations, in order to be more effective in its work.
HFHE’s houses vary from 22 to 36 square meters in size and are built from a number of different materials, including stabilized earth blocks, hollow concrete blocks and fired bricks. HFHE also constructs improved traditional style ‘chika’ houses, which are built mostly of wood, soil, sand and stone. These are very popular because they are the most affordable and are quick and easy to build. All houses have a latrine in a separate block and are built in such a manner that families can add further rooms in the future.
In one initiative in its Dessie affiliate, HFHE has focused its assistance on a particularly disadvantaged and marginalized group; ex-leprosy patients. Several former patients and their families have been integrated into a ’Habitat Village’.
This ongoing project has not only provided decent housing to many people, but it has also opened up income-generating and other opportunities for many in these communities.
Real Life Story
Halima Ali (33), her husband, Shikuri Musa (45) and their children Rahmet Shikuri (9) and Ebrhaim Shikuri (14) used to live in a one-roomed house with no foundations, no windows, a dirt floor and a leaking roof. The place was far too small for the family and had no toilet – they had to use the field. They could not afford anything better on Shikuri’s limited income as a horse cart driver.
When asked why they wanted to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house, Halima said: “Most of all, we wanted a toilet. My family is usually sick due to the poor sanitation situation. We are fed up with using the field. The new house is much cleaner and bigger than where we were living before and it has its own toilet! It also has two rooms and its own compound. My previous house was so unhealthy and difficult to live in. The current one is far better. It is not even possible to compare the two.
“Moving to a Habitat for Humanity house has encouraged us to save to improve our circumstances. We also believe now that we can improve our lives by working hard. The impact of this house on our lives is so crucial. We can do nothing to show our gratitude except thank God.”
Location: Northeast Africa
Population: 73.8 million
Climate: Tropical monsoons with topographic variations
Economy: Industries include food processing, beverages, textiles, chemicals, metal processing, cement, coffee, beeswax and sugarcane
Government: Federal republic
Religions: Christianity, Islam
Languages: Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo, Guaragigna, Somali, Arabic, other local languages, English