development events poverty

Building better homes for World Habitat Day

Today is World Habitat Day, as designated by the United Nations. This century the number of people living in cities overtook the global rural population for the first time. Two billion people live in cities in the developing world, and that’s a figure that is rising by a million a week. Keeping up with housing demand is impossible, and the result is unplanned developments and lack of facilities.

When houses are built without running water and sanitation, there are obvious consequences for health. Diseases are spread through dirty water, and there is no way to deal with rubbish and sewage, compounding the problem. Illness in turn affects school attendance in children, and parents’ ability to work. Whole communities are affected by substandard housing. In that sense, it has to be tackled alongside education and healthcare – a holistic approach to development that deals with the root causes of problems as well as the symptoms.

Building better homes, with access to clean water, enough space and screened windows to keep out mosquitos, is a critical aspect of development.

Habitat for Humanity are a charity specializing in this area. Their Shelter Report 2011 is out today, and here’s a video about the way they work:

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