title: habitat: building
the global village
intro: the need for decent, affordable housing around the world is staggering. An estimated 25% of the world's population, some 1.5 billion people, live in substandard housing or have no home at all. Families are trapped in a daily struggle to survive amid horrible, often inhuman, living conditions.
what: Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian housing organisation. Dedicated to the ideal that all people deserve a simple, decent place to live on terms they can afford to pay, Habitat builds houses all around the world. Since 1976, the organisation has built more than 50,000 houses throughout the United States and another 130,000 houses in communities around the world. Individuals, corporations, and other organisations donate funds, building materials, and labour.
how: families in need of decent shelter apply to their local Habitat affiliate. These have the job of selecting partner families and coordinating house building. Once ready, the houses are purchased by the homeowner families. Houses are made affordable to low-income people thanks to the following:
Africa & Middle East: Habitat for Humanity’s goal is to eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth. The greatest impact need for housing is the slums in the hundreds of cities in Africa and the world. By 2025 it is estimated that a third to almost half of the poor in Africa and Asia will live in cities and towns. An estimated 600 million people currently live in life and health-threatening homes and neighbourhoods. City governments in developing countries are overwhelmed by the crisis. They often lack the finances, capacity and/or political will to provide the engineering and social infrastructure necessary for sustainable urban living environments. Consequently, informal settlements (slums) have mushroomed across the African continent.
Given these ever-increasing realities, Habitat for Humanity is embarking upon a new campaign to address the housing challenges faced by cities that are dealing with rapid rates of urbanisation in Africa and the Middle East:
Three principles guide Green Team building projects: 1) energy efficiency, including wise use of construction materials; 2) sustainability; and 3) maintenance of good indoor air quality. The team encourages builders and designers to construct homes with minimal impact on the environment. Team members also urge affiliates to incorporate a concise plan for reclaiming and recycling leftover materials, minimizing the use of natural resources and reducing the impact on the land. Beyond the physical structure, they also address human health issues, striving to create buildings that are free of toxic materials and that can be heated and cooled with the least amount of energy.
Some Habitat affiliates have begun to take their homes to even greener heights by incorporating more environmentally responsible building materials: