International Program: Ethiopia | Habitat for Humanity Canada

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Habitat for Humanity’s work in Ethiopia

The vast majority of Ethiopians live in inadequate homes with 90% of urban houses and almost all rural houses in poor condition and 60% of the population lacking access to adequate sanitation facilities. In Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, 80% of the houses are in poor condition and below standard. Houses in slum areas are old and dilapidated and too narrow to accommodate families, where health and dignity is compromised. Most families who live in dilapidated homes in slum areas share toilets that are also in very poor condition. Only 18% of households in Addis Ababa have access to sanitation facilities and 24% of households do not have any form of toilet.

Habitat for Humanity’s work in Ethiopia

Habitat for Humanity (HFH) and cbm Canada both have strong track records of development work in Ethiopia, improving quality of living for families with no or low-income. By coming together, these two organizations are working to transform the living conditions of people who have disabilities or who are at risk of developing disabilities, by improving their access to decent housing and sanitation facilities.

Project context

The town of Fitche is located about 100 km north of Addis Ababa. Fitche does not have enough housing options for those in need and existing housing does not meet basic standards of safety. Exacerbating the housing issue in Fitche is a serious lack of sanitation, forcing families to use nearby open fields and causing long-term negative health implications. Complex social issues also make vulnerable families (female-headed homes, the elderly, those with disabilities) even more vulnerable due to a lack of community integration due to discrimination. The reality is that people in Fitche have no other option than to live in less than adequate homes. They do not have the financial means to improve their housing conditions, which are significantly sub-standard, and they have no other alternative housing options.

Fitche Integrated Vulnerable Group Housing Project

In partnership with cbm Canada, Habitat for Humanity is working to transform the living conditions of people who have disabilities or who are at risk of developing disabilities, by improving their access to decent housing and sanitation facilities. Addressing a key development need for adequate housing in the urban context of Ethiopia, the Fitche Integrated Vulnerable Group Housing Project is increasing access to safe and decent shelter for vulnerable families using innovative approaches and best practices. The goal of this project is to improve the living standard of 40 vulnerable families by providing new homes and holistic support services. In addition, this project is creating a healthy community by improving sanitation facilities at the community level and encouraging learning and knowledge transfer to become a model for future healthy, inclusive and holistic housing programming in Ethiopia.

Project Impact

The financial matching commitment from cbm Canada as well as the expertise that both organizations bring to this project is better serving the unique needs of this community. The Fitche Integrated Vulnerable Group Housing project empowers vulnerable individuals, families and communities with an integrated home design that focuses on accessibility and social inclusion. The home design process integrates traditional Ethiopian concepts of communal living that is reducing the stigma of people with disabilities within the wider community, while increasing accessibility for those with limited access. The new home design, which includes a kitchen and toilet, also improves living conditions for families by taking into consideration modern realities of home life, including improved kitchen facilities and separate livestock and animal pen areas improving overall health.

This project encourages learning and knowledge transfer through financial literacy training for improved livelihoods as well as engaging students from the Civil Service University to increase awareness of the state of low-cost housing and inclusive home design solutions. In addition, Habitat for Humanity and cbm Canada are working with the municipality in order to establish land tenure for families who previously lived in rented homes (either from the Ethiopian government, called ‘kebeles’ or private landlords), significantly enhancing family security. Lastly, the Integrated Vulnerable Group Housing Project in Fitche is supporting families to build their own homes where possible, building a sense of pride and ownership, and enabling the acquisition of key construction and home maintenance skills necessary for homeownership.

Project Objectives:

1. Increase the living standard of vulnerable families

2. Create a healthy community through empowering the community members and housing beneficiaries to have healthy homes

3. Encourage learning and knowledge transfer at a community level, good governance, and an organizational level that will support the scaling up and replication of future pro-poor, inclusive and holistic housing programs.

Empowering Vulnerable Families in Home Design

Traditional Ethiopian homes value concepts of communal living. Many families share communal eating and cooking spaces as well as sanitation facilities (if they have any) with other families. This concept of communal living is not only respected in the home design, it also empowers vulnerable families within their communities by increasing community awareness and acceptance of disabilities, while also improving accessibility for those with limited access. The home design itself (pictured below) was developed in consultation with the beneficiary families as well as the wider community.

Meet Emamu Teketel

Emamu Teketel is 15 years old and has a mobility limiting disability. She was abandoned by her mother and now makes a small living from washing clothes. She lives with her brother in a government ‘Kebele’ house that lacks kitchen and toilet facilities and are constantly faced with the threat of eviction as the home is in her mother’s name. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity and cbm Canada, this project in Fitche will provide Emamu and her brother a new healthy, safe home with dignified access to sanitation. Without the threat of eviction, this home will provide security and become an asset for future possibilities. When asked what she wants most in a home, Emamu stated that she dreams of a home that she can be proud of.




Country facts

Capital: Addis Ababa

Population: 96.6 million (July 2014 est.)

Urbanization: 19% live in cities (2014)

Life expectancy: 60 years

Unemployment rate: 24.9%

Population living below the poverty line: 39% (2012 est.)

Access to improved water sources: 51.5% (2012 est.)

Access to improved sanitation facilities: 23.6% (2012 est.)