New five year housing project launched

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade have committed $7.8 million to a new five-year housing project in Samoa.

Habitat for Humanity New Zealand C.E.O., Claire Szabo said N.Z M.F.A.T. contributed $6.3 million with Habitat for Humanity committing to fundraise a further $1.5 million.

The Habitat for Humanity has been working closely with Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (A.D.R.A.) to continue meeting urgent housing needs for Samoans living in vulnerable circumstances.

Ms. Szabo said the newly launched five-year project will reach 45 villages within Samoa, which aligns with their long service commitment to Samoa and their mission.

"The project focuses on preparing the community and particularly their housing for future disasters. This will involve mobilising the community, to plan for safer homes. 

"To give them more skills in strengthening and improving their homes; providing and raising resources that will implement this safe housing plans and guiding them with planning and financial literacy needed to maintain and continue to improve housing in the long term," she said.

The 45 communities include 30 from Upolu and 15 from Savai'i and will be chosen in careful sequence and coordination, she added.

The C.E.O. said she was inspired by the entries of some of the young Samoans in their recent essay competition on housing conditions.

"Aruna Wallwork Tuala, the winner of the competition, described her concerns about Samoan housing as such: 'I can’t recount how many houses I’ve passed over my years of living in Samoa unstably build with fragments of wood stuck up in an attempt to hold up the infrastructure and portions of metal strapped to the roof'. 

"She describes her concerns in terms of people living in such houses and concludes with these words: 'The stories of these families besieged by an endless of amount of problems due to their inadequate housing must be heard and I am willing to be such a voice'," she added. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, who officiated at the project launch, commended Habitat New Zealand and A.D.R.A. for successfully delivering shelter programmes for communities worst affected by natural disasters.

"This initiative will ensure financial inclusion and open up opportunities for access to credit for construction. It is also an avenue to carry out analytical studies on housing needs and priorities. 

"By the end of the programme, communities will have acquired skills and strategies conducive due to enhance resilience as well as the ability to make the right options for funding the development initiatives. More importantly communities will be better prepared for disasters by identifying options that will reduce risks," he said.

The Habitat for Humanity first became active in Samoa after the 2009 tsunami, when they brought over 600 volunteers to the south cost to rebuild more than a 100 fales for household families. Most recent was a three-year programme serving 286 households with new or rebuilt homes in partnership with New Zealand M.F.A.T. and the Samoa Housing Corporation.

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