Senegal -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
Substandard housing in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
Mrs. Dieye in the backyard of her new HFH home, where she lives with her husband and three sons. Having their own home provides security for a quarter of the rent they were paying.
Senegal is a peaceful country, steeped in history and culture. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the country exported large amounts of ivory and gold. Today, the economy is primarily agricultural.
Poverty is widespread in Senegal and many flock to the cities in search of prosperity. Sadly, a large portion of the population end up unemployed or surviving day to day. Some people work in industry, but even those who stay in the same job for 20 years may not own a home. Although they may manage to save, people are often unable to access credit to finance a house.
As a result of these and many other complex issues, housing is a massive problem. Many families are squeezed into cramped quarters in slums with no proper sanitation, encouraging the rampant spread of disease.
Habitat for Humanity Senegal (HFHS)
Since its inception in 2001, Habitat for Humanity Senegal (HFHS) has partnered with people who cannot afford decent housing in the suburbs of the capital, Dakar.
HFHS’s houses consist of a minimum of one bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, washroom and pit latrine. The houses are built on cement foundations, and walls raised either with cement bricks or using stabilized blocks (red soil and cement) and corrugated iron roofing sheets and have wooden doors and windows. The total plot of 10 x 15 sq. meters and is surrounded by a brick wall, giving the family privacy. HFHS is also helping families around Dakar to rehabilitate their existing houses. Local and international volunteer participate in building activities.
HFHS helps families into their own, decent housing by working in partnership with cooperatives and associations. Members of the cooperatives save and apply collectively to a bank for loans with which to acquire land for one member at a time. Once this is paid off, the cooperative may apply for housing loans. However, these are not always given, due to very strict criteria. HFHS provides credit to those who are not eligible for a bank housing loan, but who pass its own selection process, enabling them to continue to the next phase and build their house, with further help from HFHS.
By implementing new design techniques, HFHS has recently achieved a reduction in its house costs, thereby reaching families with even lower incomes and enabling more houses to be built. HFH Senegal’s future plans include helping flood victims currently living in shacks and families developing income generating activities in villages close to Dakar.
Real Life Story
“My name is Elhadji Magatte Dieye. I am 46 and have a wife and three sons. My work in the chemical industry involves a lot of traveling, so I spend a lot of time away from my family. I was concerned about the conditions they were living in at the house we were renting, so I decided to do my best to get a home of our own and ensure my family is secure when I am away.”
“My first savings helped me to acquire the plot through our cooperative, but I was unable to afford a further loan to build the home I dreamed of. Then I attended a meeting and heard about the activities of Habitat for Humanity Senegal. I continued saving and later applied to them for a housing loan. I was accepted and now I own a beautiful house, which my wife can decorate in her own style. We no longer have to pay expensive rent of USD $160 a month, but a moderate monthly repayment of USD $40. I am grateful to HFHS for making my dream a reality.”
Location: Coast of West Africa
Population: 10.6 million
Economy: Main industries include agriculture (fish, peanuts, cotton), mining, refining, and petroleum production
Government: Republic under multiparty democratic rule led by the President
Religions: Islam, Christianity
Languages: French, Wolof, Pulaar, Jola