Zambia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
The Housing Need
Joseph Mwale’s one-room house was not big enough for his family of nine, so he had to rent rooms for them.
Houses built by Habitat for Humanity Zambia are durable and affordable and are built using appropriate technology.
In the late 1960s, Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia) was the third largest copper producer in the world. Its natural resources made it potentially one of the richest countries in Africa, but in the early 1980s, the world price plummeted, plunging Zambia into debt.
Despite recent economic progress Zambia remains one of the least developed nations in the world. Unemployment and poverty are widespread and two thirds of the population lives on less than $1 USD a day. The country’s problems have been compounded by the influx of refugees from Angola and DR Congo, diseases such as malaria and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Urban migration is also increasing, and cities like Lusaka and Ndola are unable to cope with the demand for housing caused by the migration. Decent housing in urban areas remains unattainable and unaffordable for most people and slums abound.
In spite of the occurrence of rapid urbanization, it is estimated that 60% of the population still live in remote rural areas, where conditions are extremely poor and below standards. Villagers rely heavily on subsistence agriculture for their income and struggle to afford the frequent necessary repairs to their mud, wattle and grass thatch roof homes.
Cracked and broken walls invite rain and rodents into houses, which in turn pose serious health risks. Families are crowded into a single room, which usually also serve as a kitchen, and children are exposed daily to life-threatening environments. These poor living conditions feed a cycle of poverty that continues to disempower vulnerable populations.
Habitat for Humanity Zambia (HFHZ)
Habitat for Humanity Zambia (HFHZ) opened its doors in 1984, when it started building houses for fishing families on Kabuyu Island. From these small beginnings, HFHZ has expanded into 6 of the country’s 9 provinces, and has facilitated multiple development initiatives, especially in the Chanyanya community. The newest of the program’s affiliates is in the urban area of Tiyende Pamodzi, Lusaka.
HFHZ builds in both rural and peri-urban areas. The average house size is 35 sq. meters (approximately 300 sq. ft). In keeping with the ethos of using regionally appropriate technology, most of the program’s rural houses are built using burnt bricks and corrugated iron roofing sheets. The houses are simple but high quality, with separate sleeping, cooking and living areas. The design is such that homeowners have the option of extending the house in the future.
• In 2003, over 400 people from 13 countries united to build 20 homes with former First President Dr. Kenneth D. Kaunda. HFHZ has built and renovated over 1500 houses to date.
• In addition to its conventional building program, HFHZ is building and renovating houses for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) and their caregivers. OVCs are extremely common in Zambia, due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. When parents die, the children end up sharing overcrowded housing with relatives, or have to fend for themselves, with no means of financial or other support – leaving them open to homelessness and the inability to keep their houses in good condition. HFHZ looks forward to expanding its work to incorporate other vulnerable groups.
Real Life Story
Joseph Mwale used to live in a very small house with only one room (see picture). It was not big enough for himself, his wife, their three children and Joseph’s four younger brothers. They couldn’t stay together and he had to rent two more rooms for them.
Joseph is a new homeowner at HFHZ’s Ibenga affiliate. He has built his house alongside his brother’s, to “keep the family close”.
Mr. Mwale has lived in Ibenga community since 2000 and says that building the house was the best thing that has happened to him and his family. He explained that Habitat for Humanity had brought unity and cooperation among people in Ibenga and had encouraged more people to become homeowners. Joseph says that having this house will cost much less than what he was spending renting three separate places for everyone.
Joseph earns a little money to fend for this family by working at the community school and his wife also earns a small income. He is very positive that he will be able to repay his mortgage quickly and is looking forward to having a place that will belong to them.
Location: Southern Africa, east of Angola
Population: 11 million
Climate: Tropical, modified by altitude; rainy season (Oct to April)
Economy: Main industries include copper mining and processing, construction,
foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, agriculture, tourism
Religions: Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Hinduism, Islam
Languages: English (official), Bemba, Kaonde, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja, Tonga, and approximately 70 other indigenous languages