Madagascar -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Bill Page, a Global Village volunteer, is a member of the first GV team in Madagascar with Wanda Smith as a leader. Stacks of clay burned bricks are moved to the build site by volunteers.
Madagascar is the 4th largest island situated east of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean, with abundant natural resources and unique wildlife. 80% of its plants and animals are found nowhere else in the world. Madagascar primarily exports agricultural products such as vanilla, coffee, shellfish, sugar and fiber. It is also a producer of cotton textile, minerals and gemstone.
The island is prone to tropical cyclones and the accompanying torrential rains, which in recent years have left thousands of people homeless. Madagascar needs 100,000 new houses a year with a yearly demographic increase of 3% while decent housing deficit is estimated at more than 2 millions.
Madagascar remains one of the 147th poorest out of 177 countries with a total population of 18, 6 million in 2005, 75% of which live in rural areas as farmers. More than ½th of Madagascar’s population does not have access to safe drinking water, and 87% of its population does not have adequate sanitation facilities. 71,3% of population live below national poverty and 49,1% earns below 1$ per day; according to world bank classification, income is still very low indeed; basic needs including food, education and decent shelter remain unsatisfied.
Families in rural villages earn what they can through domestic farming, carpentry, craft and embroidery. However, with their low incomes, most do not own land or have access to credit from traditional lending institutions. Their houses are usually little more than shacks made from compacted mud and poorly attached thatched roofs, which provide little or no protection from diseases, robbery and cyclones.
Habitat for Humanity Madagascar (HFHM)
Habitat for Humanity Madagascar (HFHM) sees housing as a means of helping people out of poverty and empowering communities to develop. Since beginning construction in 2000, HFHM has helped hundreds of Malagasy families in 19 communities to build simple, decent homes. HFHM helped more than 800 families split up in 19 affiliates. These families typically have incomes of as little as $0.13 per person per day.
HFHM is currently building houses in the East, Central Highland, West, South Highland and Northwest regions. The program has grown at an astounding rate, doubling house production between 2004 and 2005. Most of the projects underway are in rural or sub-urban areas but there are plans to begin urban upgrading in the cities of Toliara and Fianarantsoa in the South of the country.
The houses measure between 15 and 40 sq. meters and usually comprise of a living room, bedroom, kitchen and a bathroom. House foundations are made of stone or fired clay bricks and then covered with concrete floors, while the walls are made of clay brick and mortar. Clay tiles or thatch is used for the roofs and windows and doors are made of eucalyptus. A pit latrine is built outside the house.
HFHM has adopted a livelihood-based strategy, working with communities that are cash poor, but rich in other resources that can help them to meet their housing needs. The program is sustainable and ensures that poverty reduction is achieved, by keeping house costs affordable for families in need. There are plans to expand into new communities, whilst continuing to lower building costs.
The program applies traditional vernacular architecture, using appropriate, locally produced materials from renewable sources. Families are given a choice of materials from which to construct their house, enabling them to build according to their needs, aspirations, and capacities.
HFHM considers local labor, whether paid or voluntary, to be a valuable resource. The community joins together in building homes for one another, in accordance with Malagasy culture of helping yourself and your neighbor. Moreover, local artisans, thatchers, brick-makers, and masons earn wages with which to feed their families, pay school fees, and fund health care. The income they receive has a knock-on effect throughout the community.
Real Life Story
Mr Mpionona and Mme Odette are married for 8 years. Mr Mpionona, 32 years old works as a labor worker in a carpentry factory while Mme Odette, 25 years old, works at Akany Avoko as a nurse, teacher and supervisor. They have three young daughters: Mamy (8), Eliane (5) and Marie (3) who all go to school at the orphanage Akany Avoko. Life was very hard as they have never had a house but rented one at USD6 while their monthly household income is USD35 month (23 cents/person/day). 5 family members have lived in a 5x6 meters room which is at the same time their bedroom, dinning room and kitchen. Mpionona is very grateful to HFH for helping his family to have a house of their own and start a new life. Their mortgage lasts 8 years and it will not be easy to pay it back but they are very confident in their future and plan to find other activities to reimburse the loan as soon as possible so that other families benefit Habitat's assistance.
Location: Indian Ocean, off the Southeast Coast of Africa
Climate: Tropical along coast, temperate inland
Population: 18.4 million
Economy: Exports include minerals, semi-precious stones, fish, coffee, seafood, petroleum products
Religions: Indigenous beliefs 52%, Christianity 41%, Islam and others 7%
Languages: Malagasy, French