Homes not Houses Project (funded by the European Union)

Homes not Houses Project (funded by the European Union)

Homes not Houses Project
Building a Sustainable Future Together  

Funded by the European Union, jointly implemented by Habitat for Humanity and World Vision Lanka, the ’Homes not Houses Project’ is expected to benefit more than 215,250 internally displaced people in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Seeking to serve the most vulnerable families displaced by the civil war, the project has committed Euro 14.7 million towards providing returnee families with permanent and affordable housing solutions, social infrastructure and livelihood protection. EU Logo 2018

The ‘Homes not Houses Project’ seeks to build 2,325 conventional and appropriate technology houses and repair 60 homes in 31 GN divisions across Batticaloa, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts by 2020. Now in its third year of operations, 2,433 beneficiaries have been officially selected, out of which 1256 have completed the construction of their homes and another 768 homes are in varied stages of construction.

For a majority of these families, this is the first home they have ever owned, as many of them had been displaced due to decades of war. Focused on providing housing support for the most vulnerable, the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ has been able to successfully provide safe shelter solutions to 116 families of persons with disabilities, 12 child-headed homes – where both parents have been lost; and more than 644 homes which are headed by women.

Promoting eco-friendly and climate appropriate construction practices was an integral component of the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ design. Introducing the beneficiaries to appropriate construction materials such as Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB) and Earth Concrete Blocks (ECB), educating them on the health, environmental and cost benefits of these options formed a crucial feature of the programme. Following the orientation on the usage of appropriate construction materials, 891 beneficiary families chose to build their homes with appropriate materials. As at 30 June 2019, nearly 90% of all appropriate technology houses are in varied stages of construction, out of which, 226 houses have already been successfully completed.

Creating Long Term Social Transformation is at the heart of Habitat for Humanity’s vision. Various flanking measures implemented under the project, have empowered families to choose appropriate technology or repair alternatives in keeping with their family plans, debt levels and livelihood potential.  Financial literacy trainings provided through this project have also educated the families on how to efficiently utilize their income, analyze income and expenditure patterns to prioritize and reduce expenses while saving up for smart investments. Financial assessments prior to obtaining loans has assisted homeowners in making informed decisions to avoid the burdens of debt. Training and assisting homeowners to prepare correct property ownership documentation and obtain appropriate building approvals from relevant local government authorities, are initiatives key to ensuring the long-term security and stability of all these families who have already endured and survived much hardship.

Another aspect of this vision towards community transformation is the development of sustainable livelihoods. One approach adopted by the project is utilizing the land usage plans to equip homeowners to identify and efficiently avail resources from their own land to increase family income. Making informed decisions about placement of perennial crops, seasonal crops, home-garden and livestock rearing are just some of the benefits already visible amongst families who adopted the land usage plans.

The second approach, involving interventions to produce skilled workers for alternative construction and setting up construction related SME’s, has improved value chain development in the construction sector and has provided many individuals with vocational training in construction and employment opportunities through the block production yards.

Encouraged and heartened by increased and sustained income generation, families benefiting from the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ have transitioned to focus more on their children’s health and education. Others have expanded their livelihood to micro level businesses providing employment to others in the neighbourhood contributing towards social cohesion. These first fruits of social transformation are proof that this project is not just about building houses but about transforming lives. It’s no doubt that the long term social, economic and environment impact of the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ will reverberate through generations to come.


A completed house constructed through the use of appropriate technology and Earth Concrete Blocks (ECB) in Mullaitivu.Habitat Sri Lanka’s National Director ceremoniously hands over the first ECB house to the beneficiary family in Mullaitivu.

A first beneficiary family to receive a Habitat home constructed with the use of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) in Batticaloa.

A first beneficiary family to receive a Habitat home constructed with the use of Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) in Batticaloa. (Photo: Jim Kendell) CSEB bricks produced and ready to use for construction at the CSEB Production Yard located in Batticaloa.

“I am hopeful that this project will assist in providing returnee families with not just homes and livelihood alternatives but also the necessary support to rebuild a life and a future for themselves. The goal has always been to turn the cycle of impoverishment and reliance to that of self-sufficiency, and I am encouraged to see that we are moving in the right direction through this initiative”.

HE Tung-Laï Margue

Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives for the Delegation of the European Union (EU)

“I am encouraged to see the significant impact this housing project has made in assisting returnee families to achieve self-reliance and stability. This project has enabled Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka in particular, to break new ground in the field of appropriate construction technologies by investing in earth-based technologies which are cost-effective and sustainable while boosting the local economy and providing much needed employment opportunities for the local communities.”

Yu Hwa Li

National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka

“The project is aptly entitled ‘Homes not Houses’. Indeed we wish to see thriving communities that are self-sufficient, stable and strong, once our building work is done and we are long gone. Thanks to the focus of this funding from the European Union the project aims to boost the local economy by investing in earth-based technologies which are cost-effective and sustainable.”

Torre Nelson

Area Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Habitat for Humanity

“We are proud to be associated with this project. One of the main strengths of World Vision Lanka is its community engagement and livelihood development expertise. I believe our interventions in this sphere will be key to transform houses into happy and stable homes.”

Dhanan Senathirajah

National Director of World Vision Lanka

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Thillainathan (far right) and Ushathevi (center) with their children (from left) Dinesh, Shanmugasivam and Aishwarya in front of their Habitat house after it was completed in August 2017. Photo: Habitat for Humanity/Jim Kendall.

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka builds a brighter future with families in ‘Homes not Houses’ project funded by the European Union

Funded by the European Union, the project is implemented by Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and World Vision Sri Lanka. As of 31 May, 2018, 353 homes have been constructed and more than 1,836 homes are currently in different phases of construction in the eastern district of Batticaloa and the northern districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

Indian Housing Project (Eastern Province)

Indian Housing Project (Eastern Province)

Indian Housing Project – Eastern Province
Building Strength & Stability of Internally Displaced FamiliesIHP Logo-2018

The Indian Housing Project is a housing construction project funded by the Government of India and implemented through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) which was initiated in 2012. The Indian Housing Project (IHP) is an extension of the Government of India’s commitment to construct 50,000 homes in Sri Lanka for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) affected by the 26-year civil war which ravaged the North and East of Sri Lanka.

In 2016, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka successfully completed the construction of 3,713 new houses and repair of 46 houses for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Trincomalee and Batticaloa as part of Phase 1 of the Indian Housing Project funded by the Government of India. Consequent to the completion of Phase 1 of the Indian Housing Project, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka was awarded the construction of 270 homes in Batticaloa as part of Phase II of the Indian Housing Project in the Eastern Province. Habitat Sri Lanka commenced the construction of 270 homes in Batticaloa in September 2017 and was subsequently, awarded an additional caseload of 131 homes in Batticaloa. Phase 11 of the Indian Housing Project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

A grant of LKR 550,000 was provided to each beneficiary family in four installments to construct a new house. All families built their homes according to Local Authority guidelines with a minimum area of 550 square feet. As the project followed a participatory “homeowner driven” process of construction, Habitat Sri Lanka provided technical assistance to homeowners so that they could in turn manage the construction process themselves. The support by Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka particularly includes basic technical awareness in construction and skills training.

This unique approach encourages homeowners to take ownership of the design and construction of their own homes, utilizing the extensive orientation and training given by the implementing agencies on basics of construction, technical aspects and house lifecycle management. Habitat Sri Lanka’s Technical Officers regularly visited the construction sites and assisted beneficiaries to source good quality building materials and supervise skilled labour.

This homeowner-driven participatory construction method has also been a key methodology utilized by Habitat Sri Lanka in building strength, stability and self-reliance among communities rebuilding their lives after the war.

IHP East Infographic

IHP East 2018-2

A completed home constructed by Habitat Sri Lanka, with a fresh coat of paint; which is the contribution of the homeowner family

IHP East 2018

A Habitat Home constructed through the Indian Housing Project in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka

Indian Housing Project (Central Province)

Indian Housing Project (Central Province)

Indian Housing Project – Central Province
Building Self-Reliance of Plantation Worker Families

IHP Logo-2018

The plantation sector provides a significant share of Sri Lanka’s national economy, with an estimated 244,500 families and a population of 966,700 living in the plantation sector. The population serving in this sector consists mainly of plantation workers who reside in small attached houses referred to as ‘line houses’. These line houses which date back to the colonial era, are now in a state of disrepair resulting in the families being compelled to live in very poor conditions which lack basic water and sanitation facilities.

In response to this major housing need in the Central and Uva Provinces, the Government of India initiated the Indian Housing Project in the Central and Uva Provinces to make a significant contribution to the sustainable resettlement of at least 4,000 plantation worker families in newly created cluster villages or small townships, under the auspices of the Ministry of Hill Country, New Villages and Infrastructure and Community Development.

The Indian Housing Project in the Central and Uva Provinces is an extension of the Government of India’s overall commitment of constructing 50,000 houses in Sri Lanka.

This Project envisages construction of new houses, through a peoples’ process with the involvement of beneficiaries and Estate Workers’ Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS). The project is implemented in close collaboration with the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), respective Regional Plantation Companies (RPC) and the Estate Worker Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS) of the selected estates.

Divided into three phases, the project is currently its first phase during which the implementation strategy is tested through the construction of 1,134 housing units constructed by four implementing partners. Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka as one such implementing partner has constructed 98 homes for plantation workers in the Hellboda Estate, Pussellawa as part of Phase 1 of this project. In addition, 265 homes in 5 new tea plantations in the Kandy and Nuwaraeliya Districts will be constructed in 2019.

As part of this project, homes are constructed for families under the home owner driven approach. This approach encourages homeowners to take ownership of their homes, with extensive orientation and training given on technical aspects and house lifecycle management. The participatory method of decision-making within this approach helps homeowners to develop their skills and self-reliance.

Each house constructed through the Indian Housing Project will be a minimum of 550 square feet, consisting of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet. The beneficiaries have the flexibility to expand the houses after the completion of the basic core-house is constructed under the project. Beneficiaries are also encouraged to provide in-kind contributions of labour and building materials towards the construction efforts in order to save costs.

IHP Infographic

IHP House 2018-1

Homes contructed for plantation workers in the Estate consist of 2 bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, sanitation facilities, and a verandah. The Indian Housing Project in the Central and Uva Provinces will benefit Plantation Estate Workers who live in poor conditions referred to as ‘line rooms’

IHP House 2018-2

A completed home of the Indian Housing Project in the Central Province at Hellboda Estate Visibility for the Indian Housing Project funded by the Government of India.

Kalutara Housing Project (Phase 1 & 2)

Kalutara Housing Project (Phase 1 & 2)

Kalutara Housing Project
Building Disaster Resilient Communities

The Kalutara Housing Project was initiated in August 2017 to construct 37 homes for low-income families in the District of Kalutara. The selected beneficiary families originally lived in small one-bedroom temporary wooden structures with limited protection from adverse weather conditions; outside intruders and provided minimal privacy for the girl child.

These temporary structures were also extremely unsafe and unstable as they had not been constructed on a strong foundation and had a poorly constructed roof – which could easily blow off as a result of strong winds. Each year, the Kalutara District reports high incidents of floods and landslides during times of cyclonic weather conditions, and these 37 families were among those most vulnerable to disasters given the conditions of their unsafe temporary wooden structures, they called home.

As part of the Kalutara Housing Project, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka selected 24 beneficiary families in Vincentiyanugama Village and 13 families in Diyalagoda Village to receive new homes through this housing project.

All 37 houses of this project are lockable houses that have been specifically designed to include disaster resilient features to minimize the risk of future disasters such as floods, in accordance with the standards of the NBRO.The cost of construction of all 37 homes was sponsored through a grant of LKR 51 Million made by an individual donor. The Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo donated 8 perches of land to each family in these two villages for the construction of these homes.

The Kalutara Housing Project has successfully provided 37 families, a total of 162 individuals and 70 children a safe and decent place to call home.

Completed Habitat Homes handed over to the 37 beneficiary families in Kalutara

KHP Project Impact Infographic

Jennifer Lemke (Netherlands)

Jennifer Lemke (Netherlands)

Jennifer Lemke (Netherlands)

Jennifer Lemke is not only the team leader of a group of 14 power women called ‘Hammers and Heels’ but she’s also the National Director of Habitat for Humanity Netherlands.

Jennifer considers ‘Hammers and Heels’ a medium to expose people in the various walks of life to the work of Habitat worldwide. Prior to their GV trip to Sri Lanka, the Power Women made three other GV trips in the recent past, where they volunteered and helped to uplift communities. As a team leader Jennifer is passionate about giving the team opportunities to experience new places and cultures while giving them great memories and also validating their efforts.Jennifer Lemke-Q

The ‘Hammers and Heels’ team finds volunteering fulfilling because it not only provides them with an opportunity to make a meaningful change in people’s lives but it also allows them to experience how selfless people can truly be, in spite of them having very little and yet are willing to share what little they have even with strangers.

Jennifer made her first trip to Sri Lanka a little over ten years ago- during the aftermath of the Tsunami. In May 2018, Jennifer had the opportunity to return to Sri Lanka through ‘Hammers and Heels’. Volunteering in Sri Lanka years later and assisting victims of the civil war to rebuild their lives, Jennifer considers this an aspiring and moving return to the country. She’s proud that her team was able to play a small yet vital role in helping People to uplift the quality of their lives through Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka.