- When Habitat started in Lesotho: 2001
- Individuals served in FY16: 1,965
- Volunteers hosted in FY16: 246
- Housing solutions: Construction of new homes; Water and sanitation; Training on health and hygiene, house maintenance and secure tenure; Advocacy for changes in policy and systems for shelter
- Capital: Maseru
- Main country facts: Kingdom of Lesotho gained independence in 1966
- Population: 1.95 million
- Urbanization: 27.3 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 53 years
- Unemployment rate: 28.1 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 57.1 percent
Habitat for Humanity Lesotho
Habitat for Humanity Lesotho seeks to empower and transform communities in Lesotho by providing decent, clean and affordable shelter to Basotho families.
The housing need in Lesotho
Lesotho is classified as one of the least developed countries globally, with a national population below poverty line estimated at 57.1%. HIV and AIDS is also an impediment to Lesotho’s development as it exacerbates social ills, such as vulnerability among children and poverty. Adult prevalence rate is estimated at 25%. This in turn, triggers rapidly increasing number of orphans and other vulnerable children in the country. Twentyseven percent of children under age 18 are orphans and the proportion of orphaned children increases rapidly with age. Evidently, the socioeconomic impacts of HIV and AIDS increases household’s vulnerability, hence increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children with marginal livelihood options, compromised traditional social safety nets and food security.
Most housing structures in Lesotho do not meet any local standards for decent living. Majority of these houses are built out of mud, stones or sticks and often lack proper ventilation due to absence of windows. Safety in such houses is minimal as the doors are of poor quality and often lack proper door locks. Living under such circumstances puts the vulnerable groups’ lives at a high risk of break-in. Many orphaned Basotho children lack a safe place to call home. Land ownership, disputes related to inheritance rights have also contributed to the challenges faced by vulnerable groups, with many becoming victims of disinheritance, property and land grabbing leaving them in desperate need of a decent and affordable place to live.
How Habitat addressed the need in Lesotho
Habitat Lesotho’s work in Lesotho encompasses new home construction, sanitation, training and capacity building and a new program stream in Advocacy for enhancing access to decent and affordable place to call home with secure land tenure. Its initiatives are aimed at curbing poverty housing as part of the cycle of poverty that most vulnerable group households find themselves in, with environmental and societal factors that continually stifle their attempts to make a better and secure life.
Here are some examples of Habitat projects in Lesotho:
Vulnerable groups housing program
Under this program, Habitat Lesotho constructs simple, yet durable two-room houses with concrete blocks and corrugated iron sheets roofs. A ventilated pit latrine is constructed to improve sanitation. Additionally, Habitat Lesotho advocates for security of tenure and initiates ownership processes for vulnerable households to ensure they legally own the land before Habitat Lesotho builds a house for them. Local authorities, including the land administration authority, local councils and chiefs working with Habitat Lesotho are instrumental in assisting vulnerable households to legally own land where Habitat Lesotho builds. Since Habitat Lesotho’s program goal is to transform communities, prospective homeowners and their communities are further empowered through various trainings. Habitat Lesotho provides direct training on inheritance rights and security of tenure to guard against property grabbing and disinheritance. House maintenance trainings ensure that the house provide long-term shelter for the homeowners. The knowledge gained through inheritance and property rights trainings has seen an increased number of wills registered in various Habitat projects. It also safeguards vulnerable family interests, leading to reduced cases of property grabbing and disinheritance in the unfortunate event of death of OVC caregivers.
In all interventions, Habitat Lesotho works in close collaboration with the Government of Lesotho, development partners, NGOs as well as local organizations to address needs of vulnerable families that often extend beyond the need for decent shelter. This way, an all-round approach to addressing the needs is adopted while ensuring community ownership of projects is prioritized.
Meet a Habitat family
Seven-year-old Mosiuoa Liphoto lives in Ha-Mpo village in the care of his twenty-eight-year-old unemployed mother Tšepang Liphoto and with his grandmother and two teenage cousins. In collaboration with the Ha-Mpo village community counsellor, the area chief and Habitat for Humanity Lesotho, the Liphoto family were identified as vulnerable. They used to live in a single roomed house built out of stones, mud, and rusty corrugated iron sheets. The house was overcrowded, with insufficient ventilation for a family of 5. The family were in constant fear of the house collapsing on them when they least expect it, especially during the rainy season. Thanks to international volunteers and Habitat Lesotho, who built their new two-roomed house and a ventilated improved pit latrine, the family could finally move and settle in a decent home. Tšepang hopes to one-day meet the team of volunteers that helped build their home for her son so she can thank them again: “…they are now part of our family. May God bless them abundantly as they serve others like they did to us.”
What you can do
You can help needy families in Lesotho improve their living conditions by taking one or more of the following actions:
Go to habitat.org/donate and designate your gift to Habitat Lesotho.
Join one of the scheduled Global Village trips to Lesotho or lead your own. For more information go to: habitat.org/gv
Establish a strong and rewarding tithe partnership to help build houses globally! Quote 863400, LESOTHO on your checks sent to: Habitat for Humanity International, Attn: Affiliate Tithe, 121 Habitat St. Americus, GA 31709
To learn more about Habitat projects in Lesotho or in other parts of the region, please contact us.