By the time the nearly 30-year conflict in Sri Lanka ended in May 2009, many homes, schools and other infrastructure were destroyed, particularly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
According to the United Nations, about 160,000 houses were damaged or destroyed in the Northern Province alone.
A damaged country
Earlier, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami wiped out about 100,000 houses.
The country’s National Housing Development Authority estimates a shortfall of one million houses which it seeks to address through a five-year housing programme from 2011-2015. The need is still great.
In Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, Colombo, more than half of the population live in informal settlements with limited access to clean water and safe sanitation.
This puts the total amount of housing needed well over a million.
How we address housing poverty in Sri Lanka
We provide small interest-free loans to help families build or renovate their homes in stages. Families contribute their own labour, or sweat equity, toward building or renovating their homes. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami paved the way for our office to help nearly 3,000 families rebuild their homes.
In May 2013, a large-scale housing project funded by the Indian government for internally displaced persons in Sri Lanka was launched. This allowed us to build another 3,000 houses and repair 600 homes in the Eastern Province.
Corporations such as Coca-Cola, GlaxoSmithKhline, Brandix, MillenniumIT and ODEL provide funding and staff as voluntary builders for Habitat projects while students from international and local schools and universities are also strong supporters.
Current HFHGB funded projects
Additional development funds will provide clean water and sanitation to families, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) training…
Additional development funds will provide clean water and sanitation to families, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) training in two neighbouring villages in the mountainous regions of Matale, Sri Lanka.
The project will impact at least 1,000 vulnerable, low-income people living in villages in Navarathnegoda and Bandarapola. The project will:
Construct a water tank and a water pump and pipe system to transport water to an easily accessible tank in a village in Navarathnegoda
Construct a water pump and water tank in a village in Bandarapola
Install a total of 82 pre-cast twin pit latrines across both areas
Construct 12 twin pit latrines across two schools
Provide WaSH training to each community, and to two active Community Based Organisations (CBOs)
Key facts & figures
Population: Over 22 million
Urbanization: 18.4 % lives in cities
Life expectancy: 76.8 years
Unemployment rate: 4.7 %
Population living below poverty line: 8.9 %
Our local office provides affordable homes through housing micro-loans. To build a new house in stages, a family can apply for a loan of 50,000 Sri Lanka rupees (about US$380) which is expected to be repaid within four years. After the initial loan is repaid, another loan can be taken out until the house is completed. For house repairs or renovations, a family can take out a loan of 25,000 Sri Lankan rupees and repay it in two years.
Natural disaster relief and response
After heavy flooding in December 2010, we were able to assist nearly 1,700 families in the Eastern and Central Provinces through the distribution of emergency shelter kits and clean-up kits. In addition more than 20 families received core houses while another 100 families were given transitional shelters.
We are also working with 180 internally displaced families in Mannar district, Northern Province, and rebuilding homes with another 4,000 displaced families in the Eastern Province.
Since 2001, we have has trained 2,000 households in the use of the solar cooker. Solar energy, in contrast to wood or coal fire used in cooking, reduces greenhouse gas emissions (and respiratory diseases in poorly ventilated houses). Women have more time for other household chores and work because they do not have to keep an eye on the food as it cooks.
We have also distributed more than 7,000 seedlings of trees such as teak, mahogany, jak and tumbuk to families since 2005. With these fruit and vegetable seeds, families can start home gardens which yield produce to supplement their food intake and reduce expenses.
Social research and advocacy
Finally, we work on influencing government policies and practices through housing research and advocacy efforts, and hosting legal clinics and…
Finally, we work on influencing government policies and practices through housing research and advocacy efforts, and hosting legal clinics and workshops, among others. Our team raises awareness and provides information through its Land Rights Project and the Adequate Housing Indicators Booklet. Doing so, we have enabled 150 families to resolve land ownership issues under the Land Rights Project.
To download the full country profile for Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, click here.
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