Nigeria -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
Mr. Guwam Leklam and his family used to suffer every time it rained when they lived in their mud and wattle house in the background.
Mr. Guwam Leklam celebrates at the dedication of his new house. “I have already advised my friends to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house, so that they can be secure like me”.
With 130 million people, Nigeria is the most heavily populated country in Africa. The country is rich in natural resources, most notably oil. However, very few Nigerians have benefited from the wealth generated by the industry, and unemployment and poverty are widespread, with 70% of the population living on less than $1 USD a day.
The country has also suffered greatly from a history of political instability. The situation has improved since 1999, when military rule ended and the regime was replaced by a democratically elected government, but ethnic and religious divisions have fuelled continuing violence and unrest.
Many of Nigeria’s poor depend on agriculture for their income and live in regions with limited access to services, inadequate infrastructure and substandard housing. The large population means that land is also at a premium. Coupled with lack of access to credit, this puts decent housing beyond the reach of most Nigerians. Although the Government is putting in place a number of economic reforms to improve the lives of the poor, it will take time before their impact is felt.
Families in rural areas commonly comprise seven people, with only two employed to care for the needs of the children and elder relatives. A typical home is made of mud and wattle with no foundations, cracked walls, leaking thatch roofs and poor ventilation. These require constant maintenance and repair and attract rodents carrying disease.
Habitat for Humanity Nigeria (HFHN)
In 2001, Habitat for Humanity established an office in the federal capital, Abuja, and began work in several communities in the middle belt area. Habitat for Humanity Nigeria (HFHN) has built decent housing for families in need through four rural affiliates and one semi-urban project.
HFHN’s houses comprise of two bedrooms, in some cases with provision for future additional bedroom. A living room, washroom, kitchette, and built in toilet and a separate pit latrine. Houses are constructed by using compressed earth blocks, wooden windows and galvanized iron roofing sheets.
HFHN builds houses in both Christian and Muslim communities, applying Habitat for Humanity’s principle of selecting families in greatest need, without favoritism or discrimination. This policy has the effect of improving relations and breaking down barriers between the two groups. For example, Mr. Shamma Makpa, an HFHN homeowner said “When I heard about the Habitat project, initially I thought that because I am a Muslim this organization would not build my house, but they did!”
Real Life Story
Mr. Guwam Leklam (pictured) tells his own story of how he was helped by Habitat for Humanity Nigeria:
“The Habitat for Humanity project is indeed a helpful program for the poor and needy who are willing to help themselves. If not for this program, I would not have this beautiful house. I am really proud to be a partaker of this. In fact I believe that I am just lucky because there are so many people in this community in need of a decent house. I attended the training organized by Habitat for Humanity Nigeria like every other person in our community and when it was time for the local committee to choose a homeowner, they chose me.”
“This house means that I will not be worried whenever it is about to rain, unlike in my former house, where the thatched roof leaked and rainwater came in through the cracks in the mud walls. Many times during the raining season the walls totally collapsed and I quickly had to build another house, so that my wives and children wouldn’t suffer in the cold. This house also means that I can stand up tall. My former hut was too low for me to be able to stand upright and I had to bend down so that my head would not hit the roof. I have already advised my friends to apply for a Habitat for Humanity house, so that they can be secure like me.”
Location: West Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon
Climate: Equatorial in the South, tropical in the Center, arid in the North
Population: 130.2 million
Economy: Main industries include crude oil, petroleum products, cocoa and rubber
Government: Federal Republic
Religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Languages: English, Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and more than 200 dialects