Rwanda -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
The owner of this house was advised to use his home improvement loan to plaster the outside walls with cement, so that the house would not be destroyed by rain.
A loan was used to improve this house in Mukabuga Kamusha by adding a room and a metal roof, replacing the doors and windows and building up the lower half with bricks. The owner of the house is on the left.
Rwanda came under the international spotlight when ethnic rivalry between Hutus and Tutsis came to a head in the 1994 genocide, which left 800,000 people dead and 2 million displaced. It also crippled the country’s fragile economic base. Rwanda is still in a state of recovery, which has not been helped by its involvement in the conflict in neighboring DR Congo.
Despite having good prospects for economic development, providing for basic needs remains one of Rwanda’s greatest challenges. The country is the most densely populated in Africa and 84% of the population live on less than $2 a day, barely able to afford basic necessities. Improving housing is a luxury most people cannot afford and poverty housing is endemic. A mere 41% of the population has access to improved sanitation.
In rural areas, houses are usually made of mud and daub, with dirt floors and no doors or windows. They are built directly onto the ground with no foundations and their roofs offer inadequate protection, rendering the structures liable to collapse. Such conditions compromise comfort health and safety.
Habitat for Humanity
In 2004, Habitat for Humanity launched a partnership with URWEGO -- an emerging Rwandan microfinance institution operated through World Relief. Realizing the urgent need for decent housing, URWEGO called upon HFH to partner with them in a pilot project that would enable families in the rural province of Kigali Ngali to improve their living conditions by applying for loans through Home Improvement Loans (HIL).
The recipients form part of existing groups called Community Banks, which are collectively responsible for their loans. The HIL is given to people of low income groups, who are unable to afford the necessary improvements to their homes, but who have already successfully started or improved their businesses through training and loan opportunities from URWEGO.
Local authorities have indicated their support for this project, which has targeted windows and other vulnerable groups, including subsistence farmers, small manufacturers and shop owners, earning as little as $35 a month.
Many of the homes that are being improved are made of mud and daub, built directly onto the ground with no foundations. Major structural improvements are being made, such as building or reinforcing foundations to stabilize walls, adding concrete floors and replacing inadequate thatched or metal roofs. Where no doors or windows exist, these are added for security.
The repairs made with the home improvement loans directly increase safety, health and comfort, as well as the durability of the houses. The loans also protect livelihoods, since many recipients had previously considered using their micro-enterprise loans for house repairs, which would have a detrimental effect on business.
Following the successful pilot project, the program will now expand to the regions of Kibungo/ Umutara and Byumba and will benefit a further 600 families over a period of two years.
Location: Central Africa, east of Democratic Republic of Congo
Climate: Temperate, with two rainy seasons
Population: 8.6 million
Economy: Main exports include coffee, tea, hides and tin ore
Government: Republic; Presidential, multiparty system
Religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs
Languages: Kinyarwanda, French, English, Swahili