HFH Nepal Receives Loan from Pilot UN-HABITAT Program To House Urban and Semi-Urban Slum Dwellers

Partnering with NGOs and MFIs, HFH Nepal Is Set To Help Over 1,500 Families

KATHMANDU, 20th April 2009: Habitat for Humanity Nepal is among organizations in six countries which will partner UN-HABITAT in a pilot program to break the poverty cycle by providing small housing loans to the urban poor such as slum dwellers.

An urban slum near the river bank in Gairegoan, Nepal.

A local couple in their house which was built with the help of HFH Nepal’s partner Lumanti.

Funded by Spain, Bahrain and the Rockefeller Foundation, the US5 million Experimental Reimbursable Seeding Operations project lends the money to local banks and financial institutions that will in turn lend to the urban poor.

Other than in Nepal, financial institutions in Argentina, Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will receive loans of up to US500,000 for housing slum-dwellers.

Hailing the landmark program, UN-HABITAT executive director Anna Tibaijuka said: “It is designed for the poor with due diligence. UN-Habitat is partnering with banks to ensure people don’t fall into poverty.”

In Nepal, Habitat for Humanity will tie up with 11 local NGOs and microfinance institutions to build new decent and affordable homes for slum dwellers in the capital Kathmandu, Chitwan district, Biratnagar city, Dharan city, Itahari town, Jhapa district, Ilam district.

Lasting three years, these projects are set to benefit over 1,500 families. Construction on the new homes is scheduled to begin in mid-2009 in four urban slums.

HFH Nepal’s partners in the project are local non-governmental organizations Lumanti Support Group for Shelter, Samjauta Nepal, Sahara Nepal, and Juntara and their network of local partners. These local NGOs are committed to alleviation of urban poverty in Nepal through the improvement of shelter.

Habitat’s Save & Build program will be implemented under the pilot UN-HABITAT initiative. This calls for potential Habitat home partners, who are saving with cooperatives under the local NGO partners, to each contribute half of the house construction cost and also their own construction materials and labor to build their houses. The remaining sum will be provided for by the UN-HABITAT loan administered by HFH Nepal and funds from Habitat for Humanity International.

HFH Nepal’s role includes managing the UN-HABITAT loan, coordinate the activities of local partners, liaise with the government over land issues and championing for decent and affordable housing with the government.

The pilot UN-HABITAT initiative enables HFH Nepal, which works in both rural and urban areas, to reach more families in urban and semi-urban areas. The projects will also pave the way for new partnerships with the local governments.

Ultimately, the families in need will reap the benefits. “If we can help people take the first step, they will complete the process themselves,” said HFH Nepal’s Aruna Paul Simittrarachchi.