India -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
AS A NEW AND VIBRANT INDIA TAKES ITS place as an economic powerhouse on the world stage, the challenge is to ensure that prosperity is properly shared.
Some 320-350 million people remain below the poverty line, according to various official estimates. India is home to 22 per cent of the world’s poor. The bulk of poverty exists in rural areas, where three-quarters of the poor live.
The quality of housing for low-income families varies greatly depending on region and location. A 2002 central government survey revealed that 21 per cent of the rural population lived in katcha homes, structures made of mud, thatch, grass or other unprocessed natural materials. In urban areas, the poor can be found living under bridges, on pavements, train tracks, highways, canals as well as in crowded slums.
According to government statistics, between 2002 and 2007, India needed 22.4 million new homes, bringing the total shortage of adequate housing to some 50-60 million units.
Habitat for Humanity India began operations in 1983 in Khammam in Andhra Pradesh, and is one of Habitat’s largest country programs. HFH India has assisted tens of thousands of families since its inception.
Given the immense need for decent housing, Habitat’s approach goes beyond just undertaking its own building programs. It also acts as a catalyst for improving housing conditions by offering Habitat’s support, expertise and experience to other groups and partners. Habitat’s direct and indirect work comes under the umbrella of IndiaBUILDS, a strategic initiative to serve 250,000 people with improved housing and related-sanitation over five years, as well as mobilizing one million volunteers in the process and raising capital toward this goal.
HFH India operates through resource centers, in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi, as well as satellite centers (former affiliates) in the south, east and west. New partnerships with corporate supporters and non-governmental organizations extend Habitat’s presence to north India.
Habitat has an active disaster response program. Reconstruction efforts after the December 2004 tsunami built on earlier initiatives in Gujarat, where Habitat provided homes following an earthquake in 2001 and in Cuttack, Orissa, where communities were rebuilt in the aftermath of a super cyclone. Habitat’s tsunami response involves assisting thousands of families directly and indirectly, often in partnership with other organizations. Habitat continues to help tsunami-affected families rebuild their lives and is constructing and repairing several hundred houses every month. HFH India also responds when local communities are affected by annual monsoon rains.
Habitat house designs and materials vary with climate and locale. Typically, house designs range in size from 240 to 360 sq. ft. and comprise a living room, veranda, kitchen and toilet.
HFH India uses a Save & Build housing microfinance concept in order to reach more communities in need. Home partner families, usually working in groups and often led by women, save one-third of the cost of a house, with a non-governmental organization or corporate partner contributing one-third and Habitat investing the remaining one-third. In future, Habitat will inject funds proportionate to a group’s savings.
There is an active volunteer program involving locally-based students, churches, overseas and Indian business corporations such as Citigroup, The Dow Chemical Company, Whirlpool, Goldman Sachs, Capgemini, Housing Development Finance Corporation and Reliance Industries Limited.
HFH India hosts up to 20 international teams of volunteer builders a year from the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. Tsunami reconstruction using innovative construction delivery methodology has also led to new volunteering opportunities.
Volunteers from within the country and overseas also contribute their labor on builds in Bangladesh. Habitat has hosted volunteer teams from Japan and the United Arab Emirates while youth teams from the American International School and other international schools in Dhaka and Shanghai have also lent a hand.
- One hundred homes were built by more than 2,000 volunteers, including celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Steve Waugh and John Abraham, during the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2006. The five-day blitz build was held in Lonavala, near Mumbai. Families have since moved in and a Fujitsu-sponsored school building was inaugurated in April 2007.
- As of July 2007, Habitat’s tsunami reconstruction program had assisted more than 4,900 families with new houses, repairs and other support.
- A public service TV advertising campaign, featuring Indian movie star John Abraham, was aired on CNBC stations from June 2007. The “Join John’s Brigade” campaign called on people to contribute their time and resources, and aims to build Habitat’s brand in India.
- In May 2007, Habitat signed a memorandum of understanding with Anarde Foundation, a local charitable trust, for 1,000 houses to be built in the western state of Gujarat.
- Habitat dedicated 78 homes for flood-affected families in Mahad in a May 2007 ceremony attended by Maharashtra state’s chief minister and Habitat celebrity volunteer, TV star Pooja Bedi, among others.
- In a partnership with Chetanalaya, a social development wing of the Catholic Archdiocese of Delhi, Habitat began in August 2006 to build 150 houses for former slum dwellers in Bawana resettlement colony, about 40km. from the capital Delhi. In February 2007, two solid Habitat houses in Bawana prevented a fire from burning down 600 temporary huts.
Population: 1.13 billion (July 2007 est.)
Capital: New Delhi
Area: 3,287,590 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and others 3%
Languages: Hindi, English, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu Kannada, Assamese, Sindhi, and 1,652 dialects
Religions: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, others 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census).
Updated September 2007