Thailand -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Habitat homeowners stand in front of their Habitat house, sponsored by Cargill.
Rehousing tsunami survivors: Volunteer time and money from corporate supporters and technologies like interlocking bricks have helped tsunami-affected families in and around Phuket to rebuild their lives.
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THAILAND, “THE LAND OF SMILES,” is one of the great economic development success stories of recent times. Yet, the fruits of prosperity are spread unevenly in this tropical Southeast Asian nation.
Many can afford to access the formal private or government housing sectors. Yet, for many low-income families, having a good, regular income is still not enough to access the formal housing sector. Increased prosperity has driven up demand for land, and land prices.
The government’s National Housing Authority estimates some 8.2 million people live in sub-standard housing. Problems are particularly acute in Bangkok as the capital has grown into a major metropolis of about 10 million people, dwarfing other cities in the country.
Migration from rural areas has placed a strain upon on the supply of affordable land. Migrants face high rents for small rooms and often live in overcrowded areas plagued by a lack of proper sanitation facilities. Squatter settlements are commonly seen along railway lines or near port and industrial areas.
Habitat for Humanity began in 1998 in Udon Thani. Since July 2006, HFH Thailand has been operating through Habitat Resource Centers in Bangkok in the central area, Chiangmai in the north, Udon Thani in the northeast, and Phang Nga province in the south.
HFH Thailand’s tsunami-reconstruction program has served nearly 900 families and is being transformed, as planned, into a regular program. The move reflects the continuing strong need for affordable housing in the south of the country.
Habitat both builds and renovates homes using Save & Build, Building in Stages and traditional models. The Save & Build housing microfinance model calls for the formation of groups of families who save toward the cost of a house. When one-third of the house cost has been saved, Habitat and its partners invest the remaining amount and construction begins on one house. The savings cycle starts again for other houses until all members of the group receive their houses. Building in Stages is a concept where Habitat homeowner partners start by constructing a two-room core house with an open space, built on a cement foundation. Additional rooms and walls are built after three years or once a certain amount of the initial mortgage is repaid.
Nowadays, HFH Thailand’s houses are typically 36 sq. m. each in size and the design features the use of concrete interlocking blocks or concrete hollow blocks with a tiled roof. Habitat also builds wooden stilt houses with metal sheet roofs in southern Thailand.
House construction normally takes about 20 days. Average monthly repayments are approximately US$28.50.
Habitat receives strong support from corporate partners in serving families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing. These partners include insurance company AIA, agricultural products group Cargill, Ford Motor’s support company Ford Operations (Thailand) Co., consumer finance company GE Money, pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline, hotel group JW Marriott, and transportation and logistical services company UPS.
HFH Thailand has also developed new partnerships with other non-governmental organizations, such as World Concern, World Vision Thailand and CODI (Community Organizations Development Institute), a national public institution which supports government housing activities and initiatives. Habitat signed a memorandum of understanding with CODI in late 2006 to provide decent homes for at least 500 families under the government’s Baan Mankong initiative to assist slum communities.
Thailand is a popular destination for volunteers from different parts of the world. Since 1999, HFH Thailand has hosted hundreds of teams from, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Northern Ireland, Singapore, South Korea, and the US.
• In July 2007, Thai actor Boriboon Janlueang and HFH Thailand staff helped build toilets for the Mlabri tribe in Phrae province.
• Habitat and Ford Operations (Thailand) completed a 10-house project for flood victims in the northern Uttaradit province in June 2007. In the same month, another 11 houses supported by UPS were completed in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
• More than 260 Cisco staff from 15 countries volunteered on their first build in Thailand in Sueayai Ruamjai community, north of Bangkok.
• Volunteers from two US-based churches, South Korea, Australia and Singapore also volunteered in the same community.
• In January 2007, HFH Thailand began a 47-house partnership with Cargill.
• HFH Thailand hosted former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn, on a break from 2006 Jimmy Carter Work Project, when they visited the tsunami recovery project in Tachatchai in November 2006.
• Eight major Thailand-based industrial companies are supporting a Habitat program to build or renovate homes for 60 families in Rayong province. Seven houses have been completed and there are plans to begin on the next phase involving 17 houses.
Population: 65.1 million (July 2007 est.)
Area: 514,000 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Thai 75%, Chinese 14%, other 11%
Languages: Thai, English, ethnic and regional dialects
Religions: Buddhist 94.6%, Muslim 4.6%, Christian 0.7%, others 0.1% (2000 census)