Suriname -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
HFH Suriname homeowner Anne builds a wall on her new home.
Concerned about the country’s poverty housing situation, a group of citizens expressed an interest in 2001 to form a Habitat for Humanity program in Suriname. Approval came from HFH’s headquarters in 2003, and HFH Suriname opened its doors as the 92th Habitat program in the world.
HFH Suriname has begun forging partnerships with other local non-governmental organizations and agencies that have provided office space, supplies and funds. It is currently in the process of designing an adequate housing model that will reflect local customs and socio-economic conditions. As in every Habitat program, future homeowners will take an active role in the construction of their new houses and repay the cost of materials through a long-term, no profit loan.
As part of its goal to ensure that everyone has a simple, decent place to live, HFH Suriname also plans to develop a home repair program where families owning substandard housing receive loans and technical assistance to make repairs and additions.
In mid-2004, all Surinamese will be invited to come together in Paramaribo as volunteers and sponsors to build the nation’s first Habitat houses. The construction of these four landmark Habitat houses will pave the way for ample community involvement in future house-building events and the development of a solid program.
The government recently estimated that Suriname’s housing deficit is 20,000 units – a very high number given that the national total is approximately 90,000 households. This housing crisis is exacerbated by Suriname’s worsening poverty and rapid unplanned migration to urban areas. Much of Suriname’s housing stock is overcrowded and constructed of wood, which need costly maintenance due to the moist climate and termite infestation.
Twenty-seven percent of Surinamese lack access to safe drinking water and 12 percent lack access to a sanitary waste disposal system (this rises to almost 70 percent in rural areas). These health hazards contribute heavily to widespread malaria (the leading cause of death for children under five), acute respiratory infections, gastrointestinal diseases, intestinal worm infestation and polio. The United Nations placed Suriname in 77th place of 175 nations on its 2003 Human Development Index.
Location: Northern South America
Economy: bauxite and gold mining, alumina production; oil, lumbering, food processing, fishing
Government: constitutional democracy
Religions: Hindu 27.4%, Protestant 25.2% (predominantly Moravian), Roman Catholic 22.8%, Muslim 19.6%, indigenous beliefs 5%
Literacy: 88 percent
Languages: Dutch (official), English (widely spoken), Sranang Tongo, Hindustani, Javanese