Individuals served in FY19: 1,685
Volunteers hosted in FY19: 1,029
- Population: Over 1.39 billion
- Urbanization: 59.2 percent lives in cities
- Life expectancy: 76.1 years
- Unemployment rate: 3.9 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 3.3 percent
Source: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in China
Habitat for Humanity has been working in China since 2002 and has supported more than 40,000 individuals to build or improve a place they can call home. Currently, Habitat China runs programs in Shanghai city as well as the southern provinces of Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan. With the support of donors, volunteers and advocates, Habitat works with families in China to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
The housing need in China
Despite China’s rapid growth and its commitment to poverty alleviation, the problem of inadequate housing persists in the world’s second-largest economy. As of 2019, official records showed more than 1.35 million rural families were living in houses classified as dangerous while 30 million urban dwellers were considered poor.
In rural areas, low-income families typically live inhouses made of mud bricks that are unable to withstand disasters. They also lack clean drinking water and/or safe sanitation. In urban centers, buildings and community infrastructure constructed between 1950s and 1990s have started to deteriorate. Worn-out wiring, moldy walls and squat toilets make living conditions particularly challenging for older people, children and people with illness and disability.
How Habitat addresses the need in China
Habitat for Humanity China works with local partners and the government in mostly rural areas to build secure, affordable homes with the help of international and domestic volunteers. Low-income families often lack adequate access to clean water and safe sanitation. Habitat homes are typically made of more durable materials such as bricks and include proper sanitation facilities. The homes rebuilt after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan included single detached, row houses, townhouses and apartment buildings. Habitat also constructed classrooms in Sichuan and community infrastructure in Yunnan, Guangdong and Guangxi. In Shanghai and Guangzhou, corporate volunteers helped to renovate homes and improve the safety of low-income families.
Many low-income urban families live in crowded spaces and face safety and health risks ranging from tangled wires to cracked and moldywalls and ceilings. Habitat helps vulnerable groups including older people and families with members who are ill to renovate their kitchens, toilets, floors and ceilings. Habitat China also supports migrant workers’ children, older people and those with disabilities by upgrading public and educational facilities in low-income communities. The work included renovating corridors, turning dilapidated spaces into community gardens, and renovating kindergartens or schools as well as centers that cater to those with special needs.
Since Habitat began working in China 18 years ago, it has been partnering with rural families to rebuild or repair their homes that have become dangerous to live in. To improve hygiene standards, Habitat builds water facilities as well as community and household toilets in villages. Training in construction skills and safety awareness may also be provided to local masons and villagers to build up their capacity. In addition, Habitat helps rural families to build back better following disasters.
Volunteers who are mostly from mainland China work alongside future homeowners to build decent homes in Guangdong, Sichuan and Shanghai. In the financial year ended June 30, 2019, Habitat China hosted 1,029 volunteers including those from Hong Kong and Japan.