Individuals served in 2018: 45,960
- Population: Over 29.7 million
- Urbanization: 19.7 percent live in cities
- Life expectancy: 71.3 years
- Unemployment rate: 3 percent
- Population living below poverty line: 25.2 percent
Source: World Factbook
Habitat for Humanity in Nepal
Habitat Nepal, established in 1997, has served over 70,000 households and built a network of valued local partners through which it implements its housing programs. Since 2015, reconstruction has been the primary focus of Habitat Nepal, directing funding and technical support to the earthquake-affected central region, followed by shelter initiatives in the flood-devastated lowlands of the East and West. In line with its new strategic plan, Habitat Nepal will develop programs, build institutional capacity and raise funds with tithing Habitat affiliates in the U.S. to make the transition from a primarily disaster-reconstruction operation to a portfolio of projects that address Nepal’s shelter needs more comprehensively and sustainably.
The housing need in Nepal
Nepal is among the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with over one in four persons living below the national poverty line. An estimated 49 percent of Nepal’s population lives in substandard housing, according to the 2011 national census. This situation dramatically worsened with the 2015 earthquakes, and 2017 massive flooding that left over 900,000 houses destroyed or severely damaged. Many of those who were most affected by the disasters are from marginalized ethnic groups and lower castes, families with disabilities or severe health problems, and single-headed households. Habitat Nepal and its partners provide financial and technical support to these vulnerable groups who often fall through the cracks in the government’s support systems.
How Habitat addresses the need in Nepal
Since 2005 Habitat Nepal has been implementing its programs through local partners who share the vision of safe, decent shelter for all Nepali families. These local nongovernmental organizations and microfinance institutions multiply Habitat’s impact through their broad outreach to marginalized communities, leveraged loan capital for housing, and holistic development approaches. Together with its partners, Habitat Nepal specializes in the following services:
• Promoting safe shelter designs and technologies.
• Researching and developing market-based housing solutions.
• Advocating with local and federal government entities to direct resources to address the shelter needs of highly vulnerable groups.
• Mobilizing international volunteers and local youth to raise awareness and support for housing needs in Nepal.
Building disaster-resilient housing
Operating in a disaster-prone country, Habitat Nepal ensures disaster-resilient designs and technologies in all its constructions. Disaster reconstruction has been a priority in recent years, resulting in over 12,355 families served in earthquake- and flood-affected areas since 2015. Habitat raises local awareness through the organization of Participatory Approach to Safe Shelter Awareness groups that undertake risk reduction strategies within their communities. Habitat also trains local masons in disaster-resilient construction techniques and promotes the use of low-cost, environmentally friendly construction materials such as treated bamboo and compressed stabilized earth blocks.
Unlocking government funding for housing
Habitat Nepal’s programs leverage federal subsidies that are allocated to housing such as those for post-earthquake reconstruction which cannot be released without mobilizing communities and providing technical assistance. In fiscal year 2019 alone, Habitat Nepal is targeting the construction of approximately 1,500 homes for earthquake-hit families with local government contributions. With funding from tithing Habitat affiliates in the U.S., Habitat Nepal is unlocking federal government funding to provide technical assistance and build at least 85 new homes and repair 150 houses of the Haliyas who are former bonded laborers.
Mainstreaming access to housing microfinance
Low-income families of the Tarai or lowlands build their homes incrementally as finances allow. With Habitat’s technical support, its microfinance partners are developing loan products tailored to the building practices of these communities. Meanwhile, a new, multi-year grant from Australian Aid enables Habitat Nepal to provide more low-income families with access to housing microfinance through training and technical assistance. Five of Habitat Nepal’s microfinance partners will receive funding support in developing, testing and rolling out new housing microfinance products, resulting in housing loans to 50,000 households by 2021.
Meet a Habitat family
Sarita, a 40-year-old daily wage laborer, was upset over the devastation when her village in Sunsari district, eastern Nepal, was hit by a massive flood in August 2017. But she was also relieved that her family remained safe in their Habitat home that was completed a few months before the disaster. “I used to live in a shack that offered no privacy, security or protection from bad weather,” says Sarita. The single mother has the sole responsibility of supporting her daughter and son, then aged 12 and 4 respectively, after her husband’s death. She had to send her daughter away to live with relatives as she felt it was unsafe to leave the child alone in the shack. Sarita was stumped when her son asked why they couldn’t have a better house to live in. Her family was finally reunited when their Habitat home was completed. Not only do they have a decent place to live, their home also protects their neighbors, who had refused to provide refuge for her family during heavy rainfall, from disasters such as flooding.