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.
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.
“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
“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
“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
“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