Ghana -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Habitat for Humanity Ghana houses in one of the affiliates.
Young children posing in front of a Habitat for Humanity Ghana house.
Ghana stands on the Gulf of New Guinea, only a few degrees north of the equator in western Africa. This peaceful nation is well endowed with natural resources, including gold, cocoa and timber, which have contributed to much of Ghana’s growth. However, world prices for these resources are unstable; it is also unsustainably exploited, threatening the livelihoods of some of the poorest communities. Ghana remains heavily dependent on international assistance.
Agriculture provides one third of the country’s income and employs more than half of the workforce. However, subsistence farmers are increasingly vulnerable and constitute a large percentage of the country’s poor, as do female-headed households. Poverty is particularly acute and is increasing in the three northern savannah and central regions.
The population of Ghana is approximately 23 million and growing rapidly. The Government states that over the next five years, almost 1 million more houses will be needed. More than half of the population lives in rural areas in small settlements characterized by neglect and decay. With low incomes and no access to housing credit, these families cannot afford to build their own decent homes or even improve what they have. Female-headed households have even less opportunities to own property or access education.
As a result, people end up living in cramped, squalid and often dangerous conditions. Extended families of eight or more people often share one room and access to clean water and sanitation is scarce. Leaking roofs and cracked walls are incapable of keeping out the heavy rains; and houses even collapse, causing death or injury to the occupants. The dirt floors are usually infested with parasites. Such conditions not only cause poor health, but also reduce capacity to work and escape the cycle of poverty.
Habitat for Humanity Ghana (HFHG)
Since its formation in 1987, HFH Ghana (HFHG) has successfully re-housed thousands of families in safe, affordable homes and has become a specialist in its field. HFHG currently operates in 8 of the country’s 10 regions, through 65 affiliates representing 135 communities. The year 2007 marked the 20th anniversary for HFHG which was celebrated to coincide with the 5, 000th house dedication in the affiliate of Nkwantakese.
HFHG homeowners are mostly farmers who own small plots, which they cultivate by hand. Even with a good harvest, these farmers do not earn more than $50 USD a month and they struggle to care for their families. However, the farmers are able to afford a mortgage with HFHG, which is never more than 20% of their monthly income.
A typical HFHG house is made up of two bedrooms and a hall, with an external latrine and washroom. Walls made of sun-dried earthen blocks and plastered with cement are built onto a concrete foundation and cement screed floor and covered with an aluminum roof.
Real Life Story
Abdullah Yusif, 31, is a mason. His wife, Hawa Beatrice, is a farmer and they have two children. Until recently, this family lived in a three-roomed house that was home to twelve people. As well as being overcrowded, the house was in very poor condition, with cracked walls and broken windows.
Yusif and Hawa are now the proud owners of a Habitat for Humanity house. Yusif had this to say: “Nothing better has happened in my life than being selected to have a house of my own and knowing that somebody somewhere far away thinks and cares for me and has contributed towards my house. This is the most joyous moment of my life and may the good Lord richly bless all who made this house possible for me and my family.”.
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo
Population: 23 million
Economy: Largely agricultural. Exports include cocoa, gold and timber, metals, diamonds
Government: Constitutional democracy
Religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Languages: English, African languages including Akan and Ewe