Habitat Officially Heads For Afghanistan, Laos, Micronesia and Myanmar

June 18, 2004

BANGKOK, June 18th, 2004 – Habitat for Humanity International is extending into four more countries in the Asia-Pacific region – Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar and Micronesia. This brings to 29 the number of countries and territories where Habitat for Humanity has a presence in the region, and one hundred worldwide.

The board of directors of Habitat for Humanity International Inc. approved the dditions at its June meeting in MGexico City, Mexico

Other countries approved were Angola, Sierra Leone, Macedonia and Turkey.

Habitat has been operating in the northern part of Afghanistan for some time. It has assisted 459 families with new construction and shelter renovations in Salbarun and Timorak villages near Mazar-e-Shariff, under a “First Shelter” initiative began in 2002.

Amore sustained Habitat operation is now being established.

The six million people of landlocked Laos are among the poorest in southeast Asia, with an estimated 40 per cent of the population living below the poverty line. Habitat plans to work in partnership with another international non-government organization. ‘The focus will be on helping families in the three main population areas, the capital Vientiane, Savannakhet and Luang Phrabang. The first building is expected by mid-2005.

Habitat is exploring partnership opportunities in Myanmar or Burma. The country has a population of some 48 million, though some estimates are considerably lower due to the consequences of HIV/AIDS. According to World Bank estimates, approximately one in four households live below the poverty line. The first Habitat building could take place in early 2005.

A group of volunteers is driving Habitat’s new program in Pohnpei, the capital and one of four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia, a UN Trust Territory under US administration. The isolated islands stretch several hundred kilometers across the Pacific, north of the equator and northeast of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. One third of the 100,000 population live on Pohnpei, one of the wettest places in the world: it rains almost every day.

The Habitat team plans to establish a “Save & Build”, “Save & repair” and “core” housing programs in the near future.