Kyrgyzstan -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Future Habitat homeowner Tokon Aitbaeva currently lives in a half-built homes together with nine other family members.
During Soviet times, Kyrgyzstan was one of the poorest Soviet republics. After independence and the economic upheavals that followed in the 1990s, the Kyrgyz people became even poorer. In Kyrgyzstan today, according to the National Statistics Committee, 71 percent of the population has an income below the poverty line. Poverty is more intense in rural areas where many people cannot manage to meet food needs, sanitation is worse and disease more common.
The housing deficit in Kyrgyzstan is enormous. In the post-Soviet period, Kyrgyzstan experienced a major population shift as the rural population moved into the cities looking for a better life. Overcrowding is a major problem in Bishkek and other cities with multiple families sharing one apartment or house. Many families must share living space of 12 sq.m. or less. Rural areas also suffer from deteriorated and severely inadequate housing conditions. It is not unusual for three generations of the same family to be crowded in a single room with no bathroom or running water.
Habitat in Kyrgyzstan
Habitat is the only organization in the country that provides no-interest, long-term mortgages for homes. Traditionally, a family must pay for their home up front in one lump sum, making it impossible for most people to own their home.
Habitat Kyrgyzstan started out by building houses together with 20 families in need, on a parcel of land donated by the local government. Due to the rising cost of house building, however, in 2003 HFH shifted work to apartment renovation and finishing half-built homes. So far 52 families have been housed in a renovated flat, while 21 families moved into a completed home.
HFH Kyrgyzstan is constantly looking into possibilities of lowering construction costs and reaching those in greater need. In September 2004 they started an innovative cane reed construction project while they are also considering building with prefabricated materials. Reed houses take only three months to build. The reed is specially processed to keep away mice and insects. Both houses and apartments have running water and heating. The average monthly payment is US$35 over a period of 20 years for a house and US$60 over a period of 10 years for an apartment.
- Celebrated 100th home dedication in September 2005.
- President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akaev attended the dedication of the first 20 houses to congratulate the families. He also granted 1 million soms (approximately $25,000) for infrastructure to the new homeowners.
- In recognition of its fundraising and public relations efforts with HFH Kyrgyzstan, the Bishkek International School received the Campus Chapter and Youth Programs 2001 International Youth Award for the most innovative group.