Nicaragua -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Example of substandard housing in Diriamba, Nicaragua.
Members of a Global Village team work with local volunteers and homeowners on the construction of a Habitat house in Diriamba, Nicaragua.
Habitat for Humanity arrived in Nicaragua in 1984, by invitation of a religious group. Under their sponsorship the first construction began in the Germán Pomares of Chinandega community. Since then, thousands of people in Jinotega, Matagalpa, Estelí, León, Chinandega, Managua, Bluefields, Carazo and Rivas have built their homes with HFH.
HFH’s houses measure 42m² and are made of confined masonry with concrete blocks, zinc sheet roofs over a metallic panel structure and floors of domestic tile. They consist of a living-dining room, two dormitories, a bathroom and a kitchen. They are designed to resist constant telluric movements on the Pacific side, as well as the impact of hurricanes on the Atlantic side.
The monthly payments, during a 10-year term, are of approximately US$45-50 per family, a minuscule amount compared to rent payments, which hover around US$100 or more.
Large-scale purchases of materials permit lower house costs and guarantee their control and distribution.
Once the construction is finished, HFH, together with volunteer community leaders, request the installation of basic services for electricity, water and public lighting in order to create convenient and secure conditions for partner families.
With more than 5 million inhabitants, Nicaragua presents a housing deficit of over 500,000 houses. Of the total number of existing houses, 250,000 are in need of repairs. Natural disasters, social and economic instability, migrations from the countryside to the city and the formation of new families give rise to the need for 30,000 new houses every year. Approximately 3,750,000 people in urban and rural areas currently live in sub-human conditions.
Overcrowding, a lack of sanitary conditions, squatting and an increase in crime are among some of the other side effects of poverty housing.
Housing solutions represent less than 2,000 units per year, coupled with the lack of loan facilities for low-income families, the results are human settlements built with low quality, discarded materials that do not comply with any health regulations.
HFH Nicaragua, in its on-going search to help alleviate this great need, plans to increase its number of partner families to 5,000 by the year 2006 and try to reach families in even lower income levels. For this purpose, progressive houses, built in stages, are being designed with lower costs. Partnerships are being established to reduce the costs of materials and a large-scale advocacy campaign is in progress to raise more funds to help more people.
Location: Central America
Climate: tropical lowlands; cooler in highlands
Economy: exports include cotton and coffee; foreign debt is one of highest in the world on a per capita basis
Religion: predominantly Christian
Literacy: 57 percent