Sri Lanka

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Quick Facts

Individuals served in FY19: 32,175

  • Through new construction –5,715
  • Through incremental building –660
  • Through market development –25,800

Volunteers engaged in FY19: 371

Other facts:

  • Population: 21.7 million 
  • Life expectancy: 76.8 years
  • Unemployment rate: 4%
  • Population living below poverty line: 4.1%

Source: World Factbook

Habitat for Humanity in Sri Lanka

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka seeks to provide decent and affordable housing to marginalized and vulnerable communities across the country. Established in 1994, Habitat Sri Lanka has enabled more than 25,400 families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Habitat also implements water, sanitation and hygiene projects. To rebuild lives and increase resilience, Habitat Sri Lanka works with disaster-affected families to build homes and conducts training in disaster risk reduction.

The housing need in Sri Lanka

Despite great advances through Sri Lankan housing programs, the need for safe, secure and permanent housing in the country is made more pressing by poverty, civil strife and disasters such as cyclones, floods and landslides. More than a decade after the 26-year civil war ended in 2009, many internally displaced families are still living in temporary tin sheet shacks in the North and East of the country. It is estimated that one in two people living in the capital Colombo is a slum dweller who lacks adequate access to clean water and safe sanitation. The shortage of decent housing for plantation workers is another area of concern. These poverty-stricken workers live in inadequate housing known as line houses without proper water and sanitation facilities.

How Habitat addresses the need in Sri Lanka

For nearly 25 years, Habitat Sri Lanka has partnered with supporters and volunteers to build decent and affordable homes for families in need of adequate housing. Following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami nearly 3,000 families were supported to rebuild their homes through the reconstruction housing project led by Habitat Sri Lanka. In May 2013, a 4,000-home housing project funded by the Indian government for internally displaced people in the Eastern Province was launched. In February 2017, a 14-million-euro (more than US$14.8 million) project funded by the European Union broke ground in the Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Batticaloa districts. The multi-faceted housing project will support 2,455 war-affected families in northern and eastern Sri Lanka and feature the use of locally made construction materials. In 2018, Habitat Sri Lanka constructed nearly 100 homes for rural plantation workers with funding from the Indian government, and 37 homes were constructed for flood-affected families in Kalutara.

House construction

Habitat Sri Lanka works with families to build decent, affordable homes measuring 51 square meters in size. Building their core house incrementally gives a family the option of expanding it when funds are available. Under the homeowner-driven construction approach, families contribute to the house design and choose the materials and suppliers while Habitat Sri Lanka provides technical support and construction expertise. Families are also trained in the use of eco-friendly, locally available construction materials and appropriate construction technologies.

Water and sanitation

With chronic kidney disease being a serious health problem, particularly in rural Sri Lanka, Habitat is committed to providing families with access to safe drinking water. Projects included the installation of water tanks, construction of wells and latrines, distribution of water filters and training in water purification and good hygienic practices. In 2018, with support from Hatton National Bank, water storage tanks were installed, providing 50 families in Batticaloa with access to safe drinking water. More than 150 students also gained access to safe sanitation through the construction of three toilets.

Disaster response

Habitat Sri Lanka helps disaster-affected families through the distribution of emergency shelter kits and clean-up kits. Transitional shelters and core houses may also be provided at a later stage. Habitat Sri Lanka helped 80 landslide-hit families to rebuild their houses following May 2016’s Cyclone Roanu and distributed emergency hygiene kits to 1,000 families after 2017’s Cyclone Mora. With funding from the European Union, Habitat is building 2,455 homes with internally displaced persons in Kilinochchi, Batticaloa and Mullaitivu districts. In addition, 37 families who lived in temporary shelters in a flood-prone community in Kalutara partnered with Habitat Sri Lanka to construct their own homes.


Stories and news

Look how far we have come

Through the EU-funded “Homes not Houses” project completed in June 2021, Sri Lankan families like Nalini’s are building better lives.

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New chapter in life

Through the EU-funded “Homes not Houses” project completed in June 2021, Sri Lankan families are building better lives.

Read more